Our partners, Heritage Classic Car Insurance produced this important guidance piece for Classic Mercedes owners, outlining the recent change in laws surrounding use of mobile phones. As classic Mercedes owners, we’re more likely to use our mobile phone for navigation and calling, particularly when heading to car meets or new destinations. BUT, simple acts can levy heavy penalties. We wanted to ensure you were up to speed and ensure hard earns cash remains yours.
Below is the article from Heritage Classic Car Insurance:
Toucher laws are due to be implemented for drivers this week to tackle the perennial issue of motorists interacting with their phones when on the road. As of the 25th March, motorists who use their phone behind the wheel could be met with a minimum penalty of £200 and six points on their license. If the driver has only held their license for less than two years, it will be revoked and they will be legally obliged to re-take both their theory and practical tests.
The new law
The new law covers all uses of a handheld device and applies when driving, stationary in congestion or even at traffic lights. This will include drivers who are supervising a learner driver.
The penalty covers the following interactions:
- Unlock or illuminate the screen
- Check the time or notifications
- Use the camera, video or sound recording functions
- Draft any text
- Access stored data such as documents, books, audio files, photos, videos, films, playlist, notes or messages
- Use an app
- Access the internet
The only exemptions to the new laws are for those using the contactless payment function on their phone at locations such as toll booths or drive-throughs. Drivers who need to contact the emergency services will also be exempt.
What has prompted the update to current laws?
Previously, you could only be fined for using your mobile phone for ‘interactive’ purposes, such as sending text or WhatsApp messages, or making a call when the phone is physically in your hand. The new changes enable the authorities to prosecute you for using your phone for taking photos, videoing, play games or even illuminating the screen. This comes at a timely moment given the recent prosecution of a lorry driver who was watching videos on his phone as he collided into other motorway traffic, killing a number of other drivers.
The current laws are not fit for purpose, given the power of mobile phones. They’re capabilities are directly intertwined with a human being’s need for continued stimulation, and are consequently extremely dangerous. According to parliament, ‘The array of functions that mobile phones can now perform has outgrown the wording of the offence and its parameters.’
Driving statistics from the Department for Transport showed that in 2020 alone, ”there were 17 road deaths, 114 serious injuries and 385 slight injuries from mobile phone-related incidents.” West Midlands police have also found that a mobile phone can make motorists four times more likely to be involved in a collision, showing that this update in the law is necessary to keep motorists and non-motorists protected. With the volume of cars on the road at an all time high, this update is welcomed by the classic car community. However, there is need for classic owners to remember they are not exempt from these laws.
Classic Car driving tips:
- Phone holder: Get yourself an aftermarket phone holder from your local Halfords or motoring store. These can be easily fitted inside your classic car, allowing you to use navigation devices without issues. This will prevent you from using your phone while driving.
- Engage your passenger: Not keen on a phone holder? Ask your passenger to use an old fashioned map or their own phone. This can make your experience more enjoyable and keep them engaged along the drive.
- Plan your route: It may seem silly, but knowing where you’re heading is the key to avoiding an accident and any penalties. Remember, it’s not just police cars that can catch you, but also cameras and other drivers. A fellow motorist only has to submit their dash cam footage or a photo to catch you. Don’t set yourself up for failure.
This article has been a useful resource to help remind us classic car owners that whilst we are exempt from specific things like an MOT and Tax, but we are not exempt from the law. Plan your route, avoid using your phone unless stationary and cherish your car. Get the right insurance and get the right specialist to care for your car.