A loophole that could allow drivers to get away with using a mobile phone if they take a photo or play a game, is closed.
The Department of Transportation is consulting on updating laws so that phone calls and text messages are not the only jobs prohibited when driving.
An exemption will be made under plans to allow cell phones to be used for contactless payment if the vehicle is stationary and goods or services are delivered promptly, such as takeaway meals.
Ministers rejected calls to move forward by prohibiting the use of hands-free functions – drivers will still be able to safely continue to use “hands-free” devices while driving, such as a cradle-mounted satellite navigation system.
Roads Minister Baroness Veer said: “Our roads are among the safest in the world, but we want to make sure they are safer by introducing the law into the 21st century.
“That’s why we’re looking to strengthen the law to make it illegal to use a mobile phone while driving in a wide variety of circumstances.
“It’s distracting and dangerous, and precarious drivers have long managed to get away with it, but this update will mean that those who do the wrong thing will face the full force of the law.”
The change in law will be applied across Britain and is expected to come into effect early next year, pending the outcome of the consultation.
In 2019, there were 637 casualties on British roads – including 18 deaths and 135 serious injuries – in accidents where a mobile phone driver was a contributing factor.
Drivers who break the rules for handheld use are penalized by six penalty points and a fine of £ 200.