Mobile phone usage while driving

Following changes on 25 March 2022, motorists are breaking the law if they use a handheld mobile phone behind the wheel for any use.

I have an older car and have my phone in a cradle. I use it to stream music to my stereo, the most part I use voice assist on it but sometimes I have to change on the screen. Does this now make that illegal? even though I can tap my cars stereo

Judging by the number of tweeting, twunts on my commute each morning, people are willing to take the risk as the chances of getting caught are next to zero.

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I don’t think this will be the case for much longer. already there’s technology being developed that can be used like speed cameras to catch people on their phones or otherwise distracted

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I think it is,
Tapping on the screen to change track : illegal
Clicking on radio to change station : not illegal


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“If you wish to use an app for directions you should fix the phone to the windscreen or dashboard, so it’s in clear view while driving (but not obstructing your view), without requiring you to hold or interact with it.”

Ok the way I read this you can tap on the phone as long as it’s on a holder … you are not allowed to hold it in your hand.

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sounds sensible to me. It’s not really any different that way to using aircon etc. So probably loads of FPNs going to be issued.

if this interpretation is correct then im alright with the changes. otherwise it just seems hypocritical that if you have a brand new car with a touch screen infotainment system then that’s fine for you to touch for music and navigation, but If you have an older car whereby you have a phone in a holder and stream music to and use sat nav on your phone, then that’s not okay.

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I don’t think it will make any difference because the current law is barely enforced. You can spot people on their phones all the time especially on the motorway.

Every time a cager does something unexpected around me I take a peek behind the wheel and nine times out of ten the driver is fumbling with a mobile phone and its not just a simple glance at the screen I’ve seen folk texting, checking emails, taking videos of the scenery.

A totally irresponsible female last Sunday morning southbound in lane two of three on the M6 driving at 40 mph while all around her traffic is over taking, under taking and near miss rear ending her at 50-70+ mph, what was she doing? What was she thinking? Unbelievably she appeared to be using her mobile phone as a mirror to apply some form of war paint to her face!!

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The law does not change the definition of hand-held, only the functions that cannot be done when holding the phone. So you can still legally touch the screen without holding it.

This is basically the relevant excepts:

110.—(1) No person shall drive a motor vehicle on a road if he is using—

(a)a hand-held mobile telephone; or

(6) For the purposes of this regulation—

(a)a mobile telephone or other device is to be treated as hand-held if it is, or must be, held at some point while being used;

(c)in paragraphs (1) to (3) the word “using” includes the following—

(i)illuminating the screen;

(ii)checking the time;

(iii)checking notifications;

(iv)unlocking the device;

(v)making, receiving, or rejecting a telephone or internet based call;

(vi)sending, receiving or uploading oral or written content;

(vii)sending, receiving or uploading a photo or video;

(viii)utilising camera, video, or sound recording functionality;

(ix)drafting any text;

(x)accessing any stored data such as documents, books, audio files, photos, videos, films, playlists, notes or messages;

(xi)accessing an application;

(xii)accessing the internet.

Unfortunately there is no consolidated version of the law online so it is in three bits, but it is pretty short and easy to understand.

Firstly there was an amendment to The Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986 which made it illegal to use a hand-held mobile phone while driving:

This was amended by adding a paragraph to allow an exception to use a remote parking function:

And then came this year’s amendment which closes various loopholes which allowed use of a phone when being used to play games etc. as in 2003 they assumed phones were used for things like “sending or receiving facsimile documents”! The update also includes an exception to allow holding a phone to make contactless payments at tolls and drive-thrus etc.

The only change to the definition of “hand-held” is that now it applies when it is “being used” rather than being used for an “interactive communication function”. Which also means the list in 6(c) is not exhaustive so this time new features should not create loopholes.

Pull up next up them and stare in. I have a 100% jump out of skin success rate. I think it has something to do with me being dressed like plod :rofl:


Last year, Fuzz told me that the law on mobile phone use was “…being in charge of a vehicle…” not driving/riding, and because of that, a supervisor in a car, be that a driving instructor or your buddy sitting next the driver who is a Learner, is also “in charge” of the vehicle, and therefore that he (the supervisor) is also liable for the 6 points and £200 (maybe more now) if he is on his mobile while the learner is driving.

This is a good summary of the new changes, written by a barrister and was tweeted this morning by a traffic cop. His view is: using it in a cradle is acceptable but don’t watch movies.

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Just skip to the Conclusion

'The new law is relatively simple: do not operate your phone in any way while driving if you have to hold it in your hand at any point to do so. Entirely non-legal rule of thumb: if the thing you are doing with it requires that it be switched on then you can’t do it. If your phone is in cradle of holder then you can use it so long as you drive carefully.

As we have seen, there is rather more to it than that, but you can’t go far wrong by just not using your damned phone while you drive…’

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I saw the exact same thing about 2 weeks ago on the A2!

People just don’t give a sh*t and the likihood of getting caught is just so slim. When I lived in London, I’d see maybe 2-3 in every 10 cars with people on phones. Out in the sticks it is usually 2-3 not on their phones!

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This is right, my only reservation is, they simply do not enforce anything. I once read about a guy who got caught 8 times using his mobile phone, the 9th time he was caught was because he’d killed someone while he was on the phone.

Why was nothing done the first 8 times! All the rules are great but pointless if they are not enforced.


The law on hand-held use of a phone explicitly addresses when supervising learners, so that issues is covered anyway.

But the cop is basically correct, almost anytime you are in control of the vehicle you are usually considered to be driving it. This can even include when you are parked, if sitting in the driver’s seat with the key.

How strictly it is applied depends on the specific intent of a law, but it is better to think of the legal definition of driving as referring to the purpose of a person (while you are considered to be the driver you are driving) rather than the specific act (you are only driving when a vehicle is running).

The advice to diabetics is that if you become hypo when driving you should remove the key and move to the passenger seat. This is because as a condition of a medial licence it is illegal to drive until 45 minutes after your glucose has returned to a safe level.

Remaining in the driving seat means you continue to be driving the vehicle, i.e. you are still the driver (as a purpose) and in control of the vehicle despite temporarily stopping.

Switching seats means you are showing you are giving up control, which is sufficient for the intent of that requirement. And, I guess, the common sense fact that in many cases there is nowhere else you could go when this happens. But in other situations even this may not be sufficient depending on the intent of the law.

Don’t rely on a Police Officers interpretation of the Law they are mostly biased and often incorrect, the Law is decided/tested in the Courts. I believe the Courts definition of driving is that driving commences with the pre-drive vehicle checks and continues through setting off to the arrival at your destination, once the vehicle is parked and the handbrake set and the engine switched off at your destination you have finished driving and therefore free to handle your mobile phone without committing an offence.

So, a motorcyclists example, if your kicking the tyres as part of your pre-ride checks before setting off to visit your mum and you text her to let her know you’re on your way I believe you’re committing an offence, if having arrived at your mums, parked up, set the side stand and switched off the engine and you ring mum to tell her you’re outside then no offence has been committed.

Let’s not confuse ‘driving’ with ‘being in charge of a motor vehicle’.

In your former example you would need to have left the vehicle and entered the house with no intention of returning to the vehicle to no longer be the driver. Just parking up outside you house may not be enough. I think it was a House of Lords ruling long ago which discussed that one. It considered that you could have left a vehicle yet still be considered the driver. I think the case was to do with drink driving.

In the second example, I doubt any court would find you to have been driving had you kicked the tyres yet not put the key in the ignition or sat on the seat. What if they were too deflated and you had no pump, so as a consequence of the test decided to catch a bus instead?

The idea that you be prosecuted for having driven a non-roadworthy vehicle when intentionally ensuring you were not doing so would be contrary to the purpose of the law. That would be a test applied by a court, as would the fact that a pre-driver (pre-ride) test would by definition have to occur prior to driving.

But as with most driving law it is mainly left to interpretation and context, first by an officer and then by a court. So an officer’s interpretation matters a lot.

Firstly because unless they have got things so badly wrong, they will effectively represent the default interpretation. You would need to persuade the court that they had erred in law.

More importantly, though, an officer’s interpretation matters with offences like using a hand-held phone while driving which usually result in a Fixed Penalty Notice.

Though these can be challenged in court, this is not easy. Doing so carries a risk of greater penalty if you lose, it will often require time off work to attend, and there is no legal aid so you will have to fund your own defence.

Recently a Parliamentary committee concluded that there is no realistic way for most people to challenge F.P.N.s and that the police know they will likely receive no scrutiny. The process is too expensive and carries too much risk, with data showing many incorrectly issued notices go unchecked.