When it comes to mobile phones and driving, the golden rule is never the twain shall meet. However, there will be times you have to make and receive a call when en route, so what happens then?
Mobile phone facts
You are four times more likely to crash if you are using a mobile phone when driving. Talking on the phone is a known distraction and with one hand occupied holding the device, driving abilities are seriously impaired. We know that reaction times for drivers using a phone are around 50 per cent slower than for normal drivers.
In the UK it is now illegal to use a hand-held mobile when driving on the road. If you're caught you may be fined and have your license taken away. Insurance costs may also go up.
However, mobile phones don't just pose a threat when you're using them and even the best drivers can be distracted by a call or text. This momentary lapse in concentration can result in an accident.
An infographic from Texting and Driving Safety showed that five seconds is the minimum amount of time a person is texting and driving. When driving at 55mph, this is the equivalent of driving the length of a football field without looking at the road.
What's classified as driving?
Driving is "using a motor vehicle on public roads and can include when a vehicle is stopped at traffic lights or during a traffic hold-up". During this time you are legally not allowed to receive or make a call.
How to stay safe
To ensure you stay safe on the road, there are a few things to bear in mind when it comes to mobiles and driving.
- Don't make or answer calls when driving.
- Don't send or read texts when driving.
- If your phone goes off, don't look at it.
- If you want to send or receive a call/text, pull over to a safe place and park.
- If you're stuck in traffic, resist the temptation to use your phone.
- If you know someone is driving, do not call or text them.
- When using your phone at the side of the road, be sure to stand in a safe place and be aware of your surroundings.
What about hands free?
The law about hands free devices is a bit sketchier. The UK government considers them to be a distraction, but they are not strictly forbidden. However, if you are caught driving poorly while using one, you may be prosecuted for not having proper control of a vehicle.
Are there ever any exceptions to the rules?
The only time you are allowed to use your phone while driving is in a genuine emergency to call 999 or 112 and only when it would be unsafe or impractical to stop.
Mobile phones and breakdowns
If you break down and need to call for assistance, be sure to get your vehicle to a safe place and switch everything off. Exit the vehicle and find somewhere safe to stand before making a call. If you're on the motorway, be sure to wear a high visibility jacket and face oncoming traffic at a safe distance. You need to be aware of your surroundings at all times as you could be in danger.