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From March, the Government is clamping down on drivers who use their handheld mobile phones while they’re driving. It means that the current fine of £100 will increase to £200 and you could now get six penalty points instead of three. This change could mean that if you’re caught on the phone while you’re driving, your insurance premium could go up and you could lose your licence. It’s a very serious offence, especially as recent research shows that the risk of driving accidents is considerable when using any type of phone.

And despite the law against driving and using your mobile now being ten years old, the number of accidents involving the use of phones or texting has jumped 21% in recent years. This proves that even the most careful drivers can be distracted by a simple text or call. As the law is changing, here’s a quick refresher on what you should know.

Know the law

The law states that if you’re driving or riding a motorbike, it’s illegal to use your handheld phone unless it’s an emergency and you need to call 999 or 112. If you can’t pull over and park up, you can make an emergency call – just make sure you remain in control of your vehicle.

You might think you won’t get pulled over while you’re using hands-free phones, in-built car systems and other wireless gadgets. But if the police feel that your driving is affected and you’re not in full control of the vehicle, they are allowed to penalise you. If the police feel that the fixed penalty isn’t severe enough for the driving offence, you could face being taken to court and face a maximum fine of £1,000. For bus and goods vehicle drivers, this leaps to a staggering £2,500.

You can avoid penalties by following these simple steps.

•  When you drive or are in control of a vehicle, it’s best to ignore your phone, even if you do have a hands–free kit.

•  If you do need to make a call, stop somewhere safe, keep the conversation short and let the person on the other line know that you’ll call back when it’s safer to do so.

•  If you’re stationary and need to make a call, ask the person you’re calling if they’re driving – don’t stay on the line if they’re behind the wheel.

Just one look

Don’t break the law – simply ignore your phone when you’re driving. It’s dangerous and if you’re caught, there can be serious consequences for your driving licence and insurance premiums.

Not sure what your car insurance policy protects you for? Check out our blog to see what your car insurance covers – from when you can claim to when you might have to pay extra for other features.

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