Mobile phones are a fantastic invention of our times. They allow us to keep in touch with family and friends and even to get some work done while on the go. This modern convenience has not only brought more efficiency into our lives, but new laws and regulations as well. The laws have changed – and got tougher – over the years, causing many drivers to still not know what is allowed and what isn’t. Here we’ll give you an overview of the current laws and restrictions and what you can do if you still want to use your mobile phone in your car.
Mobile phone driving law UK
As of March this year (2022) you will be breaking the law if you use a phone at any time or for any reason while you are driving your car. This includes taking pictures/videos, going through your phone looking for music, or playing some games.
The government has launched an extensive campaign informing drivers of the consequences they face if they use their phone when they are driving. Efforts are being made to ensure that everyone is kept safe on the streets of the UK through public information adverts placed on social media and radio.
Penalties for using your phone while driving
The penalties that have been set down will remain the same. Driving when using a phone will get you 6 points and a £200 fine (in the case of a fixed penalty). In the case of a discretionary disqualification, you will face 6 points in addition to a max. £1000 fine.
Retrofitting a hands-free car kit
You can retrofit a hands-free system in your car if one is not integrated. This makes sense, because talking on the phone at the wheel is dangerous and can result in high penalties. That’s why we’ll explain how to retrofit a hands-free system
If you don’t have a hands-free system integrated into your car’s electronics, you can easily retrofit one: An external hands-free system for the car has a loudspeaker and (a few) buttons to accept calls. Inexpensive kits are already available for about £20. In addition to this system, you will of course need a smartphone, which you can then use to make calls. This is how you can retro-fit the hands-free system.
Mount the external hands-free system in the car: To do this, position the device on the sun visor or on the air vent. The best place depends very much on the particular system your purchased. Then put it into pairing mode. In most cases, the device will even search for a smartphone itself after it is switched on, but you can also do this manually by pressing a button (exactly which buttons varies from model to model – a look at the user manual will help here). Take your smartphone, activate Bluetooth and connect to the hands-free system. This step is only necessary the first time – in the future, the smartphone and system will connect automatically.
Now you can answer phone calls or start a new call. Modern hands-free systems also have Siri (iPhone) and Google Assistant (Android smartphones), so you can start a phone call by voice command.
The battery life of the retrofit kits is about 8 to 20 hours on average, and you can conveniently recharge the device overnight. Since this is done via the cigarette lighter, you don’t even have to remove it for charging. Tip: There are also some car radios with integrated hands-free system. So if you are not satisfied with your car radio anyway, this is a real alternative.
Better safe than sorry
The statistics regarding using a phone while driving are sobering indeed. Your reaction times decrease and are 30% slower than the drink-drive limit. You are also 4x more likely to be involved in an accident. If you are not able to resist using your phone in your car, it’s best to invest in a hands-free device to keep you, your passengers, and other road users safe.