Drivers to be banned from picking up mobile phones

It will become illegal for anyone to pick up and use their mobile phone while driving, under new legislation to be enacted next year.

The change will end a loophole that can allow drivers to escape punishment for using a hand-held phone to take a photo or play a game.

Mobiles will still be able to be used to pay for a drive-through takeaway.

And drivers will still be able to use devices hands-free under the plans, the Department for Transport said.

At present, making phone calls and sending text messages are banned while driving.

Ministers have rejected calls to also ban the use of hands-free function, for example using a sat-nav in a phone cradle.

The change in law would apply across the UK and is expected to come into effect early next year, depending on the outcome of the consultation.

National Police Chiefs’ Council lead for Roads Policing, Chief Constable Anthony Bangham, said: “Using a mobile phone while driving is incredibly dangerous and being distracted at the wheel can change lives forever.

“Police will take robust action against those using a hand-held mobile phone illegally and proposals to make the law clearer are welcome.”

The punishment for drivers caught breaking the rules on hand-held mobile use is six penalty points and a £200 fine.

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