The RAC has warned that new, tougher rules of the use of mobile phones while driving must be ‘vigorously enforced’ in order to be successful.
Announced by the Government on 19 November, the new laws make it illegal to use a hand-held mobile phone while driving under ‘virtually any circumstance’ from 2022.
Current laws state it is a criminal offence to use a hand-held mobile phone to call or text while driving – but a legal loophole has ensured drivers have escaped punishment for other actions such as taking photos.
This is because such actions aren’t seen as ‘interactive communication’, and therefore do not fit the current definition of the offence.
The move is designed to bring the laws into the 21st century – banning drivers from using their phones to take photos or videos, scroll through playlists or play games.
The RAC has welcomed the change to the laws, but warns it is ‘absolutely vital’ that the new law is ‘vigorously enforced’.
Simon Williams, RAC road safety spokesman, said: “We strongly welcome the Government’s strengthening of the law on handheld mobile phone use behind the wheel.
“As our phones have become more sophisticated, the law has not kept pace and this has allowed some drivers who have been using their handheld phones for purposes other than communicating to exploit a loophole and avoid the maximum penalty.
“Our research suggests that more than one-in-10 younger drivers admit to taking a photo or video while driving, while 6% say they have played a game.
“While [the] announcement is clearly good news, it’s absolutely vital that the new law is vigorously enforced otherwise there’s a risk that it won’t deliver the sort of behaviour change that will make our roads safer.”