Highway Code: Drivers risk 6-point fine just for checking notification in new rules

From next week, rules regarding the use of mobile phones when driving will become stricter with 13 additions to the Highway Code being enforced. The changes focus on reducing accidents where a mobile phone is used.

From March 25, drivers will need to be aware of the new rules as if they are found to be breaking them they could be issued with a six-point penalty and minimum £ 200 fine. The rules are changing to make it clear to drivers what is classed as being on their phone when driving.

The reasoning behind the 13 new regulations is for the Highway Code to “keep up with technology”. A Government spokesperson said the rules are being put in place as there are an “array of functions that mobile phones can now perform which have outgrown the wording of the offence and its parameters”.

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The 13 new rules that Government officials will use to determine if someone has used their phone when driving are:

  • illuminating the screen
  • checking the time
  • checking notifications
  • unlocking the device
  • making, receiving, or rejecting a telephone or internet-based call
  • sending, receiving or uploading oral or written content
  • sending, receiving or uploading a photo or video
  • utilizing the camera, video, or sound recording
  • drafting any text
  • accessing any stored data such as documents, books, audio files, photos, videos, films, playlists, notes or messages
  • accessing an app
  • accessing the internet


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You will be found guilty of using your phone whilst driving if you break any of these rules. The only exemptions come if there is an emergency, you are using maps ‘hands-free’ or you are paying for something using your phone in a stationary vehicle.

The regulations still occur if the phone is without WiFi, is on airplane mode or is out of data. The new law will also cover “any device which is capable of interactive communication even if that functionality is not enabled at the time.”

As well as to keep up with technology, new regulations were also introduced as a result of court cases where drivers have been found not guilty of using their phones whilst driving as they weren’t communicating.

In one instance a driver filmed a crash whilst driving and was found not to have broken any law. Motorist groups such as the RAC have ‘strongly welcomed’ the law change but say it must be enforced properly to really make roads safer.

Researchers at the Transport Research Laboratory said the law changes are sensible, but the ongoing “focus on ‘hand-held’ devices misses the point”, and a wider appreciation of how even ‘hands-free’ technology can distract drivers is needed.

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