The Government is set to crack down on any hand-held mobile phone use while driving, including taking photos, browsing the internet or scrolling through a playlist
A legal loophole that allowed drivers to escape prosecution for such phone use while behind the wheel is set to be closed, the Government confirmed.
Transport secretary Grant Shapps has announced plans to tighten up the existing laws and ministers will also consider strengthening the current penalties for hand-held mobile phone use.
However there are no plans to ban hands-free phone use.
An urgent review will be expected to be in place by next spring, making the offence clearer for drivers and police forces.
Currently, the law prevents drivers from using a hand-held mobile phone to call or text.
However, lawyers have successfully argued that people caught filming or taking photos while driving should escape any punishment as these activities do not fit into the ‘interactive communication’ currently outlawed by the legislation.
The revised legislation will mean any driver caught texting, taking photos, browsing the internet or scrolling through a playlist while behind the wheel will be prosecuted for using a hand-held mobile phone while driving, the Department for Transport (DfT) pledged.
Mr Shapps said: 'Drivers who use a hand-held mobile phone are hindering their ability to spot hazards and react in time – putting people’s lives at risk.
'We welcome the Transport Select Committee’s report [on mobile phone use while driving], and share their drive to make our roads even safer, which is why this review will look to tighten up the existing law to bring it into the 21st century, preventing reckless driving and reducing accidents on our roads.'
The DfT said that if a driver looks at their phone for just two seconds when travelling at 30 miles per hour, whether to reply to a message or send a quick snap, they will travel 100 feet blind, drastically increasing the chance of a crash.
Nick Lloyd, Head of Road Safety at the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents RoSPA said: 'Drivers who use their phones are up to four times more likely to crash. RoSPA highlighted this loophole in the summer and is delighted that such prompt action is being taken to ensure that all hand-held mobile phone use is to be prohibited, making our roads safer for all.
'This action comes alongside further measures to tackle phone use while driving, including a review of road traffic policing and wider traffic enforcement to look at how roads policing currently works, its effectiveness, and where improvements could be made.'
Anthony Bangham, National Police Chiefs Council lead for roads policing, Chief Constable said: 'Technology has moved on since the original offence was introduced and it’s important to ensure any distraction to a driver is kept to an absolute minimum to keep all road users as safe as possible.'