I continue to be interested in the ways other countries deal with the same safety issues we face in the United States. This guest post on the use of cell phones while driving is from the United Kingdom viewpoint, and is furnished by attorney Jeremy Black.
It is well-known that drivers who use mobile phones behind the wheel are considerably more likely to be involved in road accidents than they would otherwise be. In fact, statistics show that people are around four times as likely to crash their car when talking on a phone as they normally would be, with reaction times increasing by around 50%.
As a result, it is illegal to drive while using a hand-held phone or any similar device, with automatic fixed penalty notices penalising offenders with a £60 fine and three points on their license. In some cases, the offender is taken to court, where they could be banned from driving, disqualified, and face fines of up to £1,000, with buses and goods vehicles potentially being fined £2,500.
Those punishments refer to cases in which the only offence was mobile phone use – if a driver causes a motor vehicle accident while on the phone, they could face a custodial sentence. This is especially likely to happen if someone suffered a fatal personal injury in the road accident.
There are only two times when people can use a mobile phone while behind the wheel:
- When safely parked
- When they need to call the emergency services when it would be impractical or unsafe to stop
Drivers cannot use their phones when stopped at red lights or in traffic, or when supervising a learner driver. Motorcyclists face the same prohibitions against mobile phone use.
If a driver is found to be talking on their mobile phone immediately before a road accident, they will be considerably more likely to be found liable in car accident compensation claims than they otherwise would. The police and insurers are aware of how dangerous using a mobile phone while driving can be and will judge road accident compensation claims in this light.
Prevent motor vehicle accidents by refusing to use mobile phones when driving
THINK! has provided a number of suggestions detailing how to prevent road accidents caused by mobile phone use.
- Don’t answer phone calls while driving
Just let the phone ring out or divert to voicemail and call them back when it is safe. If a call is an emergency, then pull over in a safe place to answer it. No phone call is so important that it has to be answered while behind the wheel.
- Park safely if using a mobile phone
The hard shoulder is not a safe place to park. Do not park in any illegal places, such as on double-yellow lines or on corners – park out of the way of traffic. Do not make any dangerous manoeuvres to answer a call.
- Don’t speak to people who are driving their car
If you call someone on the phone and they inform you that they are driving, ask them to call you back when they have pulled over and are safely parked.
Jeremy Black is a personal injury solicitor Burnley working with a team of solicitors in Burnley. He specialises in whiplash injuries sustained in motor vehicle accidents and is constantly trying to keep on top of this challenging area of personal injury law. He also likes driving his Audi and he hasn’t had to claim car accident compensation yet!