The UK is about to make it clear that you shouldn’t grab your phone while you’re driving — regardless of what you intend to do. The government is closing a legal loophole (via BBC) that allowed people to pick up their phones while driving as long as they weren’t calling or messaging. When enacted, you’ll have to use hands-free features for just about everything. The lone exception is for contactless payment while you’re stationary, such as paying for a meal at a drive-thru.
The law previously only banned “interactive communication.” Effectively, this let people escape punishment by claiming they were browsing the web, taking a selfie or otherwise doing something that didn’t involve chatting with others.
The measure is expected to take effect in early 2021. Phone use while driving in the UK currently leads to a £200 ( about $258) fine and a six-point penalty.
The tougher restrictions come alongside a study showing that many drivers aren’t keeping their eyes on the road. Of 662 phone interactions, only 38 were totally hands-free. A blanket ban for hands-on use won’t necessarily get more of those drivers to change their habits, but it could ensure consistent enforcement that simply wasn’t an option before.