Currently reading: Government to close mobile phone use 'loophole'
Transport secretary will change the law to ensure drivers can be prosecuted for filming or surfing the web behind the wheel

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.

Read more

Mobile phone use while driving should be banned entirely, say MPs

Driver who filmed video on phone cleared by high court 

Government to enforce zero-tolerance policy for drivers caught using mobile phones


James Attwood

James Attwood, digital editor
Title: Acting magazine editor

James is Autocar's acting magazine editor. Having served in that role since June 2023, he is in charge of the day-to-day running of the world's oldest car magazine, and regularly interviews some of the biggest names in the industry to secure news and features, such as his world exclusive look into production of Volkswagen currywurst. Really.

Before first joining Autocar in 2017, James spent more than a decade in motorsport journalist, working on Autosport,, F1 Racing and Motorsport News, covering everything from club rallying to top-level international events. He also spent 18 months running Move Electric, Haymarket's e-mobility title, where he developed knowledge of the e-bike and e-scooter markets. 

Join the debate

Add a comment…
Peter Cavellini 2 November 2019

The car.

 A car is transport, your supposed to be driving only, not making, answering or anything that distracts you, it's that simple,driving a car involves all your senses and generally we all manage to do this and talk to our passengers if there are any, we're too connected in my opinion, if when a call or txt arrives in your car, do what your supposed to do, stop when and it is safe to do so, then deal with messages and calls, why can't folk get there head round that?!

Steema 2 November 2019

Mobile Phone Law ‘Loophole’

Oh I am so stuffed! I have a new Tesla Model 3: Hello!

Luap 1 November 2019


There's no use introducing new rules if no one is going to enforce them.

si73 1 November 2019

Luap wrote:

Luap wrote:

There's no use introducing new rules if no one is going to enforce them.

They don't need people to enforce, there are cameras that can catch you using a phone apparently.

As said surely everything could be bundled under driving with undue care and attention? Why was another law required? It just needed advertising that using your phone whilst driving will get you prosecuted.

Theojw71 1 November 2019

Why a new law?...

As with all laws, simplicity produces vagueness and then the devil arrives in the detail. So 'driving without due care' sounded like a great control against mobile users. Then someone said, "But what about if I am just...?" And so the exclusions,  inclusions, sub-clauses and complex lengthy individual court cases began! I'm concerned that cameras will be used to determine whether offences are carried out. How well does that work for parking?