UK drivers to be banned from using a mobile phone from 2021

A loophole that allows UK drivers to use their phones at the wheel for purposes other than making a call is to be closed next year

mobile phone use

UK drivers will be breaking the law if they pick up and use their mobile phones while driving from 2021.

A loophole that allowed drivers to pick up their phones and use them for other purposes, like taking a picture or playing a game (!), will be closed. The move will reduce the number of reasons a driver can legally have for having a mobile phone in their hands, making it much easier to get a conviction.

The new laws will prevent a mobile phone from being used in any capacity aside from paying for food at a drive-through takeaway with services like ApplePay. From next year it will be illegal to film, take pictures, scroll through playlists, and play games (that actually happens!) on a mobile phone while in control of a vehicle. The law will still apply if road users are stopped at traffic lights, in a traffic jam, and supervising a learner driver. The only times a mobile device can be used in the driver's hand is when safely parked up or when calling the emergency services.

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Grant Shapps, Transport Secretary 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.

“We welcome the Transport Select Committee’s report, and share their drive to make our roads even safer which is why this review will look to tighten up the existing law to bring it into the 21st century, preventing reckless driving and reduce accidents on our roads.”

The new ruling is expected to be in place by Spring 2021.

What is the penalty for mobile phone use while driving?

You could receive up to 6 penalty points and a £200 fine if found guilty of using a hand-held phone when driving. If your licence has been gained less than two years ago, you could lose it altogether.

You can also be taken to court where you can:

  • be banned from driving or riding
  • get a maximum fine of £1,000 (£2,500 if you’re driving a lorry or bus)