What is a Hand Held Device

'Hand Held Communication Device'?
A hand held device is something that must at some point be held in your hand while you are making or receiving a voice call or other form of communication. It includes PDAs that can be used to download emails, text messages, picture messages etc . Basically to stay on the safe side of the law, any hand held device that has a communication function is best avoided while driving.

I am still careful with my driving when talking on my mobile phone.

Why can't I use it? No matter how safe you think you are, it's still dangerous to use a mobile while you're driving. Studies have shown that a driverís reaction can be up to 50% slower than usual and the risk of crashing is increased by 4 times when they are using a mobile phone. Reactions of drivers using mobiles were recorded as being 30% worse than that of a driver who was over the drink driving limit. Texting or speaking on the phone distracts you from what you are doing and you are forced to split your concentration between driving and chatting, when you should be focusing your full attention on the road

Can I use a hands free phone?
Yes you can. Essentially, you are allowed to push buttons, but not to hold the phone, so make sure itís in a cradle which is attached to your dashboard. However, do remember that if you are stopped for driving in a poor or careless manner and the police discover that you were using a hands-free mobile phone, you can still be prosecuted for not having proper control of your vehicle - the penalty for which is the same as it is for using a hand held phone while driving - a £60 fine and 3 penalty points.

If you are unlucky enough to end up in an accident, your mobile phone records may be used as evidence to prove that you were distracted at the time of the accident. This could lead to further points on your license, large fines and in some cases, even a prison sentence.

Are there any exemptions?
If you are in a genuine emergency situation and it would be unsafe for you to stop, there is an exemption in place that allows motorists to call the emergency services on 999 or 112 while driving.

My mobile is ringing and I am driving. What should I do?
The safest bet is to leave it ringing and call the person back once you are no longer driving and are parked in a safe location. Even just picking up the phone to say ĎIím driving, Iíll call you backí is illegal. If you are working and it is your boss ringing, you should make sure they know that they should forbid employees to answer company mobiles if they are driving. If they fail to do so they may well be liable in the event of an accident or a prosecution.

Financial Implications:
Besides the obvious financial implications of a fine, if you are caught breaking this law and end up in an accident as a result, it's entirely possible that your insurance company will not pay out to fix any damage to your car. You could lose your no-claims bonus and increase your premiums, so wherever possible, switch your phone off when you are in transit.

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