Transport secretary Grant Shapps is aiming to "urgently" tighten the laws surrounding mobile phone use while driving to ensure motorists can be prosecuted for taking photographs or for using the internet.
The current law prevents drivers from using a hand-held mobile phone for 'interactive communication' – essentially to make calls or text – without a hands-free system. A number of people caught using their phones to take photos or film while driving have escaped prosecution because their lawyers successfully argued such activity does not fit that description.
The government will now take forward a review that will tighten up the law to ensure that any driver caught texting, taking photos, browsing the internet or scrolling through a music playlist while driving can be prosecuted.
Shapps said: “We recognise that staying in touch with the world while travelling is an essential part of modern-day life but we are also committed to making our roads safe. Drivers who use a hand-held mobile phone are hindering their ability to spot hazards and react in time – putting people’s lives at risk.”
The change to the law, which follows recommendations in a report by the Transport Select Committee, will prevent “reckless driving and reduce accidents on our roads”, according to Shapps.
Government research shows that a driver looking at a phone for two seconds while travelling at 30mph will travel blind for 100 feet.
Ministers are also looking at the current penalties in place for hand-held mobile phone use while driving. However, there are no plans to ban hands-free phone use.The government expects the new proposals to be in place by early 2020.