The legal driving seat
How to stay on track
Driving laws help keep you and others safe. Some driving offences won’t land you in court, but others will.
New driving laws came into force in March. Every driver should know about them.
Three facts about the legal driving seat
1. Using your mobile phone
It is against the law to use a handheld mobile phone while you drive. If you get caught, you will incur six penalty points and pay a £200 fine. New drivers will lose their licence.
If you end up in court, you could be fined up to £1,000. Drivers of buses or goods vehicles can be fined up to £2,500.
The same penalties apply to using a handheld phone in standing traffic, at traffic lights or while parked up with your car’s engine running.
2. Using your smart phone as a sat nav
Many of us rely on Google Maps on our smart phones to navigate.
You can still use your smart phone as a sat nav, as long as you
• set it up before your journey
• do not touch it while driving
• place it in a holder correctly.
If you need to touch your phone – to change your route, for example – stop in a safe place first and turn off the engine.
You could be charged with careless driving if you let your sat nav distract you.
3. Car seats
We all want children to be safe. Children must use the correct type of car booster seat until they are 12 years old or 135cm tall.
If you are about to buy a booster seat, make sure you choose the best one.
New laws mean that backless booster seats first brought to market on or after 1 March 2017 can only be used by children who are taller than 125cm and weigh more than 22kg.
So, while you can legally keep on using backless booster seats you already own, it’s worth bearing in mind that many experts say backless booster seats are not safe for younger children. High-backed booster seats are a safer option.
If you are charged for a motoring offence and you aren’t sure what to do, think about seeking legal advice.