New rules on the use of hand held phones by drivers were published in Britain on 27 October, bringing to an end speculation about their content.
The new regulations are simple and unambiguous — from 1 December, 2003, it will be a criminal offence to use a hand-held mobile phone at any time while driving.
The regulations neither prohibit nor allow any specific type of equipment, phone or connector but simply make in an offence to hold a phone whilst driving and cover all activities associated with making or receiving a call, including dialing.
The new regulations do not affect the present law, which imposes an absolute obligation on drivers to have full control of the vehicle anyhow [n.b. the offence of , “driving whilst not in a position as to have proper control of a vehicle” is dealt with by Regulation 104, Road Vehicles Construction and Use Regulations 1986] and to drive with due car and attention at all times.
Whilst the use of a hands free phone will not be an offence, drivers will face criminal prosecution and penalties ranging from a simple fine to disqualification and even imprisonment, if any aspect of the call adversely affects their driving and especially if it leads to a crash.
Kevin Delaney, Traffic and Road Safety Manager for the Royal Automobile Club (RAC) Foundation said:
“The new regulations introduce a welcome note of clarity and send a clear message to drivers and their employers about the hazards associated with the use of hand held mobile phones.
“The time has come to put speculation and rumour behind us and take a realistic approach to minimising actions which can and do reduce concentration and car control.
“As well as using only hands free phones, drivers and employers should adopt a more responsible attitude to using phones at all. Keep your hands on the wheel, your eyes on the road and your mind on driving.”
Source: RAC (UK) via Newspress