Road safety team advise against distracted driving

Drivers are being warned by Somerset County Council’s Road Safety Team that   tough new legislation kicks in this week to punish mobile phone use at the wheel.

As of Friday (25 March 2022), drivers caught using a phone while in charge of a vehicle can expect six points on their licence and a £200 fixed penalty notice. If you have only had your driving licence for less than two years, it will be revoked, and you will have to pass your test again.

The Highway Code will also be changed to say that handheld phone use in traffic jams or when stationary is also illegal.

However, the rules have been updated to allow some exceptions:

  • The continued hands-free use of satnavs. Phones should only be used for navigation if the route is set before you start driving.
  • Making contactless payments from stationary vehicles at drive-throughs or toll gates.

Drivers must, however, always take responsibility for their driving and can be charged with an offence if the police find them not to be in proper control of their vehicle.

Driving distracted is just one of the five “fatal five” behaviours that Somerset Road Safety and partner agencies are raising awareness of; the others are speeding, intoxicated driving, careless driving and not wearing seatbelts. While there is increased focus on mobile phone use this week, all five behaviours are dangerous, reckless, and incredibly avoidable.

A spokesperson for Somerset Road Safety said: “We welcome the new legislation on handheld mobile phone use.

“People willing to risk not only their lives but many others’ by scrolling through social media while at the wheel will be caught and will feel the force of the Law.”

Avon and Somerset Police encourage people to submit their own dashcam or helmet cam footage showing drivers illegally operating mobile phones to them. This can be done at www.avonandsomerset.police.uk/roads/.

Somerset Road Safety provides advice to thousands every year through educational events; they run Bikeability courses for school children and train School Crossing Patrols. Please visit www.somersetroadsafety.org for more information and follow them on social media – Somerset Road Safety on Facebook, @SCC_RoadSafety on Twitter and @somersetroadsafety on Instagram.