Driving and Mobile Phones Can Passengers Really Face Fines

New laws on mobile phone usage in vehicles focus on closing previous loopholes that drivers were exploiting. The new rules see a longer list of now prohibited uses and harsher penalties. 
More concerning to some is the new law that also covers the mobile phone usage of car passengers. So, can a lease car passenger be fined for using their mobile phone and under what circumstances?

How the new law affects leasing car drivers

The use of mobile phones for interactive communication was made illegal in 2003. Despite this, the Department of Transport states that in 2020 mobile phones were responsible for 17 deaths and 114 serious injuries on UK roads.

Interacting with your phone takes your total concentration away from the road. If you are dialling, changing apps, or looking at the screen while holding your phone, you are also not holding the wheel with both hands or looking at the road.

Of course, the same could be said of in-car entertainment units. However, these are usually positioned within the contract vehicle's dashboard to reduce the time and attention they require and ensure you pay maximum attention to the road. It is one of the reasons why phones can still be used as sat-nav devices while driving if they are correctly positioned within the vehicle and are not being held in hand or blocking the driver's view.

The new laws increase the list of things it is now illegal to do on your mobile phone while driving. Illegal activities now include:

  • Accessing an app
  • Accessing any stored data such as documents, books, audio files, photos, videos, films, playlists, notes or messages
  • Accessing the internet
  • Checking the time
  • Checking notifications
  • Drafting any text
  • Illuminating the screen
  • Making, receiving, or rejecting a telephone or internet-based call
  • Sending, receiving or uploading a photo or video
  • Sending, receiving or uploading oral or written content
  • Unlocking the device
  • Utilising a camera, video, or sound recording

What can you still do on your mobile phone?

If you are involved in or witness an emergency while driving, you can contact the emergency services. It is advisable to pull over to a safe spot to do this where it is possible. But, you will not be penalised for taking this action where there is a genuine need.

As stated above, you can still use your phone as a sat-nav. You cannot hold it in your hand, and it must not take your attention away from the road or block your view of the road. If you haven't placed your cradle in your new leasing car, don't be tempted to put it on the seat next to you or on your lap to follow directions, this will lead to a fine if caught.

You can still use it to make contactless payments if the car is stationary and you receive the goods straight away. So paying for bridge tolls, parking and food at a drive-through are all good.

What fines do drivers face?

The penalties haven't changed. If you are caught using your mobile phone at the wheel, you face six penalty points on your licence and a £200 fine. If you have had your licence for less than two years or are caught twice within three years, you risk a driving ban.

However, if your view of the road is blocked or you are deemed not to be in proper control of your vehicle, these penalties can be increased. You can be taken to court and fined up to £1,000 and face a driving ban.

If you cause an accident because you are on your mobile phone, you face even stiffer penalties. There is an obligatory two-year ban for causing death by dangerous driving and up to 14 years imprisonment. There are moves within the government to extend this term to life imprisonment.

So how does this affect passengers?

If you are the passenger in a leasing car happily looking at your phone or calling someone without interfering with the driver, it doesn't affect you. If you were to cause the driver to lose concentration by placing your phone in their face, asking them to interact with it or otherwise removing their attention from the road, you could face penalties.

However, if you are supervising a learner driver, in any capacity, either as a professional instructor or family/friend helping out, you cannot use your phone at all. If you are supervising a driver, you need to have your full attention on them and the road.

If you use your phone under these circumstances, you face up to six points on your licence and a potential £1,000 fine. You, as the supervisor, are in charge of the vehicle and the driver and should take responsibility and be a positive role model for driver behaviour.

Accessing the best car leasing deals

Check out the new rules and how they may affect the car you choose when looking for the perfect vehicle for a personal or business lease. If you are unsure how the new rules affect you, check out the GOV.UK website for further information and background to the changes.

At Express Car Leasing, we have access to the newest and brightest leasing cars and deals. Whether you are looking for the latest hands-free technology, the best safety record or a good allrounder, we have a car leasing deal for you. 

Follow us for news and updates on the changing face of driving, and contact the team to see how Express can help you get on the road for less!