Mobile phones in cars: recent changes to the law

Using your mobile phone in the car carries plenty of risks.

It can easily distract you from the road, leading to an accident. Naturally, there are laws to deter people from using their phones in the car. Below, we explore recent changes to the law. 

The changes

The changes to the law came into effect in March 2022. Previously, motorists were just banned from calling or communicating on their phones while driving. However, some motorists were escaping this law by claiming they were using it for other purposes. To reflect this change, the law now bans all forms of mobile phone use unless the car is safely parked. Essentially, holding and using the device is banned. Indeed, this law also applies if you’re supervising a learner driver too – as the passenger you shouldn’t use a mobile phone either. 


There are various penalties for using your phone while driving. You can get up to six penalty points and a £200 fine if you hold and use a phone, sat nav, tablet, or any device that can send and receive data. Furthermore, if you passed your test within the last two years, you will lose your licence. If the offence is particularly serious, then you could be taken to court where you could be banned from driving or receive a fine of up to £1000. However, obviously the largest penalty to consider when using your phone while driving is causing an accident. The implications of causing an accident can stretch much further than just a small fine. If you cause or are affected by a wreck, a car accident lawyer can help you navigate the situation as safely and efficiently as possible.


Hands-free use of a phone can still be allowed in some circumstances though. Essentially, you can interact with your phone if you have hands-free access – be it through voice commands, or a Bluetooth headset. What’s more, if you securely mount your phone on the dashboard, then you’re also allowed to touch the screen to interact with your sat-nav system. However, even if you’re using your device hands-free, you could still be liable to be charged with driving without due care and attention, if you appear to be distracted for a long period of time. 


There are some exceptions in which you can use your phone in the car though. If you need to call an emergency number – such as 999 – and it’s not safe to stop, you can use your phone. You can also use your phone if you’re safely parked or if you’re making a contactless payment while the vehicle isn’t moving. Another scenario where you’re allowed to use your phone is if you’re using the device to park your car remotely. 

These changes should help boost safety on the roads in the UK. However, if you’ve suffered in an accident due to a negligent driver, then you could make a road traffic accident claim to try and receive the compensation you deserve. 

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Paul McDonald
Paul McDonald
Photo Editor

Paul is a freelance photograher and graphic designer and has worked on our most recent media kit.

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