Mobile phone driving laws

On 1st March 2017, new mobile driving laws were introduced. The penalty for using a mobile phone while driving increased, with drivers running the risk of receiving six points (versus three previously) on their licence and a fine of £200 (up from £100).

If convicted, a driver’s car insurance premium could also increase as insurers will consider them to be higher risk and new motorists who have passed their test within the last two years will lose their licence.

Two years on from the changes, we're keen to understand how the new mobile phone driving laws have impacted driving behaviour. We conducted a survey of 2,000 UK drivers to find out how much Brits actually know about mobile phone driving laws and whether the increase in fixed penalty notices have made any difference to their driving behaviour. 

Have changes to mobile phone driving laws impacted driver behaviour?

Our survey found that 84% of motorists claim they do not hold and use their mobile phone while driving. 17-24 year olds are the most likely age group to hold their phone when driving (30%) with drivers over the age of 55 being the least likely (4%).

Why do motorists use a mobile phone while driving?

Almost half (46%) of drivers who admit to using a mobile phone behind the wheel do so for navigation purposes. In addition to this, almost a third of motorists who disclosed they used a mobile phone when driving said they did so to answer calls and texts.

In 2017, the number of fixed penalty notices served to motorists for mobile phone use reduced by 34% overall. Most drivers stated that a driving ban (61%) and penalty points (59%) put them off mobile phone use, with a significant majority (70%) indicating that the fear of an accident was the main reason for not using a mobile phone while driving.

Have changes to mobile phone driving laws reduced road accidents?

Analysis of supporting government data revealed that overall the total number of accidents involving mobile phones fell by 10% between 2016 and 2017. The total fixed penalty notices issued also fell drastically in 2017, by 34% with every region reporting a drop year on year.  

Although the data demonstrates that UK drivers are assuming safer driving habits, further analysis of government statistics suggest that we still need to make further changes. While the total number of accidents involving mobile phones reduced, the average number of casualties per accident rose from 1.6 to 1.8 in 2017.

Is it illegal to use your phone as a GPS while driving?  

Gov.uk states that a phone can be used for satellite navigation purposes if it is fully hands free, does not block the view of the road and traffic ahead and is not being manually operated at the same time as being behind the wheel.

It's not legal to pick up and use a phone for GPS at the same time as driving a vehicle. This extends to being stopped at traffic lights, queuing in traffic and supervising a learner driver.

With navigation serving as the main motive to use a phone at the same time as driving, the purchase of a separate satellite navigation device that operates hands-free could help motorists to adhere to mobile phone driving laws.

Driving and mobile phone penalty statistics

To find out more about mobile phone driving laws, read our guide about the penalty for using a mobile phone while driving.

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Data sources

A survey of 2,000 respondents by One Poll (Feb 2019)

www.gov.uk/government/collections/police-powers-and-procedures-england-and-wales

www.gov.uk/government/statistical-data-sets/ras50-contributory-factors