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Be smart about smartphones

As we come to rely increasingly on digital communication, the temptation to answer calls, respond to texts or stay connected through our phone or other mobile device, even when behind the wheel, is a lethal distraction we all know is illegal. After all, you wouldn’t pick up your phone with a police officer watching and you wouldn’t do it on your driving test. The risk does not disappear when you think there’s no one watching. By ensuring your focus is 100% on the road at all times, you’ll give yourself the best chance of anticipating hazards and keeping yourself and others safe. The current penalty for mobile phone use while driving is a £200 fine and six penalty points, and you’ll lose your licence if you passed your driving test in the last two years. The best way to deal with your mobile is to make a resolute decision to keep it out of reach every journey and cut the temptation to pick it up when you’re stationary at traffic lights or queuing in traffic. While legal, hands-free does not remove the risk of distraction for which you can still be prosecuted. Simply take a few minutes before a journey to make important calls or check voice messages and emails, and for peace of mind, build in breaks to longer trips to check calls and messages safely. Work together with friends, family and work contacts to lower the expectation that you should be available all the time when you’re driving. If you do use your phone in the car, make sure you are safely parked, with the engine switched off and the handbrake on.