It will soon become illegal to drive while using a hand-held phone in any way, the Department for Transport has announced.
It’s already illegal to text or make a phone call using a hand-held device while driving, unless using the device ‘hands-free’, including as a Sat-Nav if secured in a cradle.
But from next year, laws will ban drivers from using their phones to take photos or videos, scroll through playlists or play games while driving.
Read more: Get the latest travel news from across Essex
Anyone caught using a hand-held device while driving will face a £200 fixed penalty notice and six points on their licence.
The law applies even when stationary at traffic lights or stuck in motorway jams, except in exceptional circumstances such as calling emergency services.
Sign up to the EssexLive newsletter below for the latest news straight to your inbox:
If you’re looking for a way to stay up-to-date with the latest breaking news from around Essex, the EssexLive newsletter is a good place to start.
The twice-daily update will deliver the top news and features to your inbox every morning and evening.
We choose the most important stories of the day to include in the newsletter, including crime, court news, long reads, traffic and travel, food and drink articles and more.
Signing up to the newsletter is simple. All you have to do is to click here and type in your email address.
It’s one of the many ways that you can read the news that matters to you from EssexLive.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “Too many deaths and injuries occur while mobile phones are being held.
“By making it easier to prosecute people illegally using their phone at the wheel, we are ensuring the law is brought into the 21st century while further protecting all road users.
“While our roads remain among the safest in the world, we will continue working tirelessly to make them safer, including through our award-winning THINK! campaign, which challenges social norms among high-risk drivers.”
A public consultation found 81 per cent of respondents supported proposals to strengthen laws around using phones while driving.
Following the consultation, the government will revise the Highway Code to explain the new measures.
Enter your postcode below for the latest traffic and travel news in your area:
An exemption to the new law will allow drivers to make contactless payments using their mobile phone while stationary, ensuring the law keeps pace with technology.
This will apply at drive-through restaurants or at road tolls, but won’t allow drivers to make general online payments while on the move.
Mary Williams OBE, Chief Executive of Brake – the road safety charity, said: “Driver distraction can be deadly and using a hand-held phone at the wheel is never worth the risk.
“This important road safety decision by government, coinciding with Road Safety Week, is very welcomed.
“This news is particularly welcomed by families suffering bereavement and catastrophic injury due to drivers being distracted by phones.
“The theme for Road Safety Week is road safety heroes – we can all be road safety heroes by giving driving our full attention.”
What do you think of the new laws? Sign up here and let us know in the comments below.