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Whatever the penalty, using a mobile phone while driving is far too risky, warns GEM

Whatever the penalty, using a mobile phone while driving is far too risky, warns GEM

ROAD SAFETY and breakdown organisation GEM Motoring Assist is reminding all drivers that using a mobile phone while at the wheel is not only illegal but also very risky.

As post-lockdown traffic builds, GEM is concerned that many of us will have come to rely on digital communication in recent months and will be tempted to answers calls, respond to texts or stay connected through our phones… even when back behind the wheel.

The current penalty of a £200 fine with six penalty points was introduced in 2017.

GEM chief executive Neil Worth says holding and using any device while in control of a car is a potentially lethal distraction. He appeals for all drivers to understand the unacceptable level of risk that goes with using a phone while at the wheel.

“Using any mobile device while driving is a significant distraction, first of all because of the physical tasks – such as keying in characters on your phone or scrolling through information.

“It’s also mentally distracting, and if you allow yourself to take part in a conversation or try to read and respond to data on your phone, you’re seriously reducing your ability to focus on the journey, on the road ahead and on the hazards that may be developing.

“We want to ensure that every driver considers the consequences before picking up a phone. You wouldn’t do it with a police officer watching and you wouldn’t do it on your driving test. The risk doesn’t just disappear when you think there’s no one watching. Using a phone while driving is irresponsible and puts not only your own safety at risk, but the safety of those who happen to be sharing the road space with you.

“By ensuring your focus is 100 per cent on the journey at all times, you will also be giving yourself the best chance of anticipating any hazards, which is a key part of keeping yourself and others safe.”

Using a phone: When can I? When SHOULD I?

1 Make the sensible decision and keep your phone safely out of reach during every journey. Build in breaks to longer trips so that you can check calls and messages safely.

2 You’re allowed to use a mobile phone when you are safely parked, with the engine off and the handbrake on.

3 Please do not pick up your phone in any other driving situation, including when you’re stationary at traffic lights or queueing in traffic.

4 If it’s an emergency and it would be unsafe or impractical for you to stop, you may call 999.

5 Hands-free does not remove the distraction risk, and you could still be prosecuted for not being in control (an offence that carries a £100 fine and three penalty points).

6 Take a few minutes before a journey to make important calls or to check voice messages and emails. Work together with friends, family, colleagues and work contacts to remove the expectation that we should all be available, all the time.  

GEM’s short ‘Kill the Conversation’ video sets out details of the offence, the risks and the penalties.

Follow GEM on Twitter @MotoringAssist for the latest industry news. 

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