Protect us from mobile phones, whatever our age

child using mobile phone

The UK government wants to support schools that would like to prohibit the use of mobile phones by pupils. But what about the rest of us? Don’t we deserve to be protected from mobiles phones, too?

Last year, Unesco called for smartphones to be banned from schools as evidence showed their use was linked to reduced educational performance as well as a negative impact on children’s wellbeing.

The outlawing of smartphones during the school day grabs headlines, but the detrimental effect of screens on learning pales when compared to the threat we all face from drivers using mobiles.

Nobody seems to know how to address the problem. France will suspend your licence for 6-months if  you’re caught on your phone while at the same time commuting another traffic offence. Meanwhile, here in the UK, the threat of six points and a fine appears to be no deterrent.

In response, 10 UK police forces are trialling new mobile cameras that automatically detect drivers using mobile phones at the wheel.

The police forces taking part in the trial are: Durham, Greater Manchester Police, Humberside, Staffordshire, West Mercia, Northamptonshire, Wiltshire, Norfolk; Thames Valley Police and Sussex.

The cameras, which are transported by van or trailer, can film thousands of vehicles an hour. Following capture, the images are first processed automatically using artificial intelligence (AI) before police decide on further action. Drivers caught using a mobile phone can expect a fine of up to £1,000 and six penalty points.

Drivers are four times more likely to crash when using a mobile phone, and as a result, motor insurance premiums increase for everyone. In fact, it’s already having a marked effect on the US car insurance industry, says the Insurance Information Institute.

Mobile phone use costs every driver money

Distracted Driving: State of the Risk examines how distracted driving creates road danger and drives up motor insurance premiums. According to the research, for every dollar the industry collected in 2022, insurers paid out $1.12 in claims.

Here in the UK, average car insurance premiums are near to £1,000 after price rises of over 50 per cent last year – a record breaking increase that could herald more telematics-based cover.

Many young motorists already use app-based insurance. If you accelerate too quickly, or brake too harshly, points are deducted from a running total. Lose too many points and your monthly premium can double.

However, perhaps the most powerful benefit is you’re not permitted to touch your phone screen while driving – cradle or no cradle.

driver using phone behind the wheel

Mobile phone law for drivers

Use of a device capable of interactive communication includes:

  • illuminating the screen
  • checking the time or notifications
  • unlocking the device
  • making, receiving, or rejecting a telephone or internet based call
  • sending, receiving or uploading oral or written content
  • sending, receiving or uploading a photo or video
  • utilising camera, video, or sound recording
  • drafting any text
  • accessing any stored data, app or the internet

The ethical choice

The ETA was established in 1990 as an ethical provider of green, reliable travel services. Over 30 years on, we continue to offer cycle insurance , breakdown cover  and mobility scooter insurance while putting concern for the environment at the heart of all we do.

The Good Shopping Guide judges us to be the UK’s most ethical provider.





  1. Vincent Edwards


    It’s a mystery to me why the law is so soft on people who use ‘phones at the wheel. We disqualify drink drivers for 12 months, and there is even the option of a prison sentence in serious cases. Yet drivers who check Facebook while driving will only face a fine and six points (in the unlikely event that they are caught). Not long ago it was only three points and not long before that there were no points at all! Twenty years ago it was widely believed that motorists wouldn’t be stupid enough to use a ‘phone while driving. Well, now we know. Will government eventually have the guts to impose effective penalties for ‘phone use at the wheel? When people see their friends being taken off the road for a year they may finally take notice. People telephoning, texting etc at the wheel can be every bit as dangerous as drunk drivers, and often more so.

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