The Law On “Using Your Phone While Driving”

Dear All,

I’m happy that after a lot of back and forth, fact checking, and questions to our Lawyers, we’ve now got “the” answer for Members to easily understand the legislation on using your phone while driving.

Lets start with the key points:

  • You CAN *use* your phone while driving, so long as its in some kind of “hands free” mode;
  • You CAN’T *hold* your phone while driving, even if you’re not actually using it, or if its in flight mode;
  • This also applies to any device that can send or receive data, like a satnav or a tablet computer;
  • The legistaltion applies even if you are sitting in traffic with the engine off;
  • The exceptions are using your phone to call emergency services, to pay at a fast food drive through, or if you are “safely parked”.

Where the interpretation comes in is if your attention is taken away from driving. Police can then use Section 3 of the Road Traffic Act 1988, which is Careless Driving to attack you instead…

Realistically, this would only happen if you had an accident, or if you encounter a particularly vindictive “police” officer, however.

Technically you can use your phone if its in a dashboard mount under the legislation.

However, we’ve heard lots of stories of “police” ignoring this, and prosecuting Drivers anyway.

It happened to me last year.

As I say, it seems the legislation is open to interpretation, mostly because of the “backup” the police have of the Careless Driving legislation…

The Solution

Happily, there is a practical solution where you can safely use your phone while driving, whilst being in no danger of the wrath of the police.

Side note: I’m sure I don’t really need to say this, but to anticipate such comments in advance… obviously we are all responsible for driving safely and not endangering other road users and pedestrians by allowing ourselves to become distracted while driving.

The practical solution to ensure you are never prosecuted for “using your phone” whilst driving is either:

If you car has built in “Apple Carplay” or “Android Auto”, make sure you use this system and keep your phone somewhere out of reach, like in the glovebox.

That way, if you are ever pulled over for using your phone while driving you can tell the “police” that you were absolutely not, and show them that its in the glovebox.

Although we know that the “police” often lie to get their own way, I think its incredibly unlikely they would risk their job over lying about something like this, unless you’ve really done something to annoy them!

Realistically though, you’ll never be pulled over for using a built in system in your car unless you are swerving all over the road and actually driving dangerously.

If your car doesn’t have Apple Carplay or Android Auto built in
, you have 2 options:

a) use your phone in a dashboard mount. However, as discussed, Police are still pulling Drivers over and prosecuting them for “using their phone” even though this doesn’t technically contravene any regulations.

It happened to me, as well as many other Members.

b) we are working on a brand new TALEX device that is an after market version of of a fixed screen for Apple Carplay and Android Auto.

This is a far better option if you don’t want to be targeted by police who either don’t understand, or wish to abuse the regulations to get prosecutions.

It will be 100% legal to use. And more importantly, it will clearly be a “hands free” device, so could not be confused by over zealous police with a phone, meaning no risk of being pulled over for “using your phone”.

We’re working hard on this new device and hope to get it out to Members in the very near future!

In summary:

  • Holding your phone while driving: Big “no-no”;
  • Using your phone in a dashboard cradle: Technically legal, but Police are using other legislation to prosecute Drivers who do;
  • Using Apple Carplay or Android Auto: 100% legal;
  • If you don’t have a car with Apple Carplay or Android Auto: we’re working on a solution for Members which we plan to have ready very soon!

I hope this has made the legislation clear but if you have any questions, just ask in the comments :-)

All the best,


32 comments on “The Law On “Using Your Phone While Driving””

  1. We have had two people killed locally by drivers who were on their phones, one turned into a filling station across oncoming traffic and the other was overtaking at the top of a (blind) hill over double white lines. Both the drivers on their phones survived.
    Are you aware that it’s legal to use a CB radio (yes, they’re still around) whilst driving?

  2. You seem to have omitted another option, namely where the phone is in the car but connected to the car’s audio system by bluetooth, with remote steering wheel controls to access it. this is available in many older vehicles that do not have a more up to date interface, such as car play.

  3. Hi Adam,
    Now that is a very clear concise explanation of the law, however as you alluded in your message the police have their own interpretation of the “law” and make things up IE lie knowing full well that a magistrates court invariably believe police “evidence” the days of honest police officers is well past and they are obliged to fill their shift with some other activity other than assaulting /raping females or driving far to fast through built up area`s causing death or injury to citizens. If you watch any of the police reality tv programs you will be appalled by their behaviour and remember this is only what we are shown, it is fully understandable why some members of society refer to the police as the filth.

  4. Hi Adam
    Thanks for confirming that, however if it is illegal to use a CB radio whilst driving then I take it that it is illegal to use two way radio’s like the one’s fitted into tipper lorries whilst driving, because I have seen a number of near misses over the years where a tipper driver is on his radio and not paying attention to what is around them.

  5. Bear in mind all the time though that it’s not the physical act of holding the phone that causes accidents (manual car owners spend half their time with one hand on the gear lever and only one on the steering wheel) but the lack of concentration when engaged in a phone conversation. It’s for this reason I don’t use ‘hands free’ but always pull over when making/receiving a phone call.

  6. well if you have been watching police programs you will see a police officer on his own, driving and using his radio that’s on his coat, so he’s only using one had to drive.
    if you ask why they are doing it, Thay say that they are allowed to do it.
    but it still has the same dangers as anyone else.
    but as always, one rule for them and one for everyone else.

  7. The way you are secribing the police, lying etc. means our force is getting more an more like the American police. ie: lying about an incident should you upset them in any way. and open to bribery! We all know they lie occasionaly to cover themselves at the expense of the driver. They are not to be trusted. The best thing to do is keep your mouth shut and say nothing so it can’t be twisted and used in evidence.

  8. To be honest even using a phone hands free there is still some level of distraction. If it is a quick social call the distraction should be minimal. However if it is work or business related it probably requires a lot more thought. I always used to drop over into the slow lane and follow a lorry and a reasonable distance and try to keep aware!!

  9. Vilifying the Police isn’t helpful: it’s as lame as the ‘Haven’t you got anything better to do?’ response: typical of people who like to blame others for their problems. Thank you, Adam, for keeping it real.

    • Hi Bill. This really does fall in to the grey area. Technically yes, however Matthew from our Lawyers at Drive Protect says that Police could well consider it a “non essential instrument to driving”. As I say, interpretation… The best and safest thing is to use a built in satnav, although often they are next to useless in my experience. The next best is to use what we are currently developing (i.e. the satnav on your phone through a fixed “airplay / android auto” device.

  10. Not sure why using a touch-screen CarPlay system or a Tesla tablet is seen as different to a mounted Satnav or phone in a cradle but there we are, grey areas to be wary of.

  11. There is no excuse for using an handheld mobile phone. I have seen people using handheld phones while driving high end cars. It is idleness because they don’t care about other road users.

  12. Ahhh, I see! we have to get a fair way down your latest lecture to find out the REAL reason for all this – you’re working on a new device to sell to people. Is there any underhand tactic you won’t use? I suppose fear is always a driver in sales situations.

    Btw, I’m interested in your use of quotes around the word police. Are you saying you were stopped by somebody impersonating a police officer? You shoudlreport that.

    • Hi Pete. Its seems pretty clear that you don’t see the World in anything resembling a similar way to myself (or thankfully most other BTST Members). I would take the time to try to persuade you of the error of your assumptions but I fear it would be an exercise in futility :-( I genuinely don’t mean this as an insult but I’ve learned that people with opinions such as yours are typically wedded to them. Adam

  13. Works both ways I guess. I’d respectfully suggest that “opinions such as mine” are more widely held.

    … and I notice you’ve avoided answering.

    • Hi Pete, my apologies, I didn’t realise they were literally questions you were asking for answers to. To answer them specifically: “Is there any underhand tactic you won’t use?” A: Yes, there is. I don’t use any underhand tactics in my opinion (I appreciate that yours is different); “Are you saying you were stopped by somebody impersonating a police officer?” A: No, as I think all (or most) of the other people who read this blog post realise, I am using quotation marks to imply that “police” who persecute the public on behalf of the state are not what I consider to be real “Police” in the traditional sense of the concept. Adam

  14. Great information, but l can not use my phone full stop unless l am parked up, l only got the use of my left hand.

    Another one is l got a Dr,s Note so l don’t need to wear a seatbelt and in the last 20 years l have only been stopped three times

  15. Hi once again Adam, It is interesting to read the comments which I note are mostly in agreement with yourself, Pete would seem to be very much against your informative mail and very pro the fascist “police ” Note the Quotation Marks Pete,if you had read the very informative mail properly you may have noted that the mention “of the new device” that you consider is underhand is mentioned in the last paragraph of the very informative mail , not as you allude a long way into the comments and reply`s and as for assertation that many people are of your opinion well I believe you will find that they all mostly live in Russia and firmly believe in enforcing their ideals that their state should keep the majority under their dictatorship, you should go and live amongst your Putin pals.


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