Tag Archives: driving

Mobile Phones… again

Mobile Phones… again

Driving and using a mobile phone is a topic that keeps on cropping up. It really is an issue that taxes motorists and causes them much anxiety, especially as the police seem to be increasing their vigilance now that the penalties have been increased in the light of recent notorious cases where road users have tragically died. Read More

One of the easiest ways to collect 6 penalty points on your driver’s licence is…

…mobile phones!  Yes, doing almost anything with a mobile phone in a vehicle is about the easiest way to attract the attention of the police and collect a straight 6 points without really trying. Just a touch on the screen of your mobile device can be considered an offence and get you into trouble.

The legal bit:  Regulation 110 (1) and (2) of The Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) (Amendment) (No 4) Regulations 2003 prohibits a person from driving, or causing or permitting a person to drive, a motor vehicle on a road if the driver is using a held-hand mobile telephone or a hand-held device.

When is it in use?  The law says that a phone or device will be in use where it is making or receiving a call, or performing any other interactive communication function whether with another person or not.

What’s use?  The particular use to which the mobile phone must be put is not defined as an element of this road traffic offence. The prosecution must merely prove that the phone (or the other device) was hand held by the person at some point during its use at a time when the person was driving a vehicle on a road.

This sounds all very restrictive, I hear you say.  Yes, it is!  Very restrictive indeed and it’s almost impossible to hold and use a mobile phone while driving and be legal.

The words “any other interactive communication function” while being a right mouthful are, frankly, critical.  Even if you aren’t engaged in a conversation on the phone while driving you are highly likely to be breaching the regulation if you are doing something else with the phone.  So being curious to see if that beeping noise is a text or Facebook message arriving even with no intention of actually reading it, let alone replying to it, is going to be enough.  Equally, if you use the phone to stream music to your car music system and want to make some alteration using the phone itself then that will be another interactive communication function.  The problem is the words interactive communication function are not defined and so it’s really easy to fall foul of the legislation.

But, I hear you say, I was stuck in stationary traffic which wasn’t going anywhere.  No, don’t think about using that phone even if you have stop start technology built in; you’re not properly parked and you haven’t properly switched off the engine.

The Government advice to put the mobile in the glovebox is actually very wise – or if not in the glovebox then firmly in your pocket or somewhere out of the way completely.  Forget about it until the end of your journey.

Can’t I ever use a mobile phone on the move and avoid a road traffic offence?  The only time you can legally use a mobile phone while on the move is in the event of a genuine emergency and, even then, you need to be sure it’d be unsafe or impracticable to cease driving while the call is made.

In almost every instance don’t touch the phone when you’re on the move!

Michael McGhie, our Road Traffic expert will be pleased to talk with you about your case and discuss the options available to you. If you have  any queries please feel free to call us on 01202 877 400 or email michaelmcghie@newnham-jordan.co.uk.

One of the easiest ways to collect 6 penalty points on your driver’s licence is…
The Hidden Issues of Driving Offences

The Hidden Issues of Driving Offences

You know the feeling. One minute you’re driving along happily and suddenly it dawns on you that the van parked at the side of the road ahead isn’t just an ordinary van but a police camera van and then you have that sinking feeling when you look at your speedo and you’re doing ten or more MPH over the limit. You probably put your foot on the brake in the hope of passing the van at a legal speed but it’s all too late; the camera has had you in its sights. You may have some experience of speeding fines but any experience is usually too much experience!

Now if your excess speed isn’t too great then, as a first offender, you’ll most likely be in line for an invitation to attend a local speed awareness course and, to be frank, even a few points on your licence and a previous (but not too recent) course does not preclude the possibility of being offered another course. You can always (when responding to the initial letter requiring details of the driver) enclose a short letter to the Central Ticket Office asking very respectfully for consideration of another course. Think about it: if you have a genuine desire to learn from your mistakes then a refresher course could be a good thing and if you don’t ask you may not get. It’s worth it even if you may have to travel a long way to attend the course, depending on the local arrangements where the offence occurred.

But if your speed was just too much for the local speed awareness course guidelines you are likely to be facing the Single Justice Procedure which enables nearly the whole legal process involving a driving offence to be completed online. This may be fine but problems will arise if you already have say 9 or 10 points on your licence. You can start the process via the Single Justice Procedure but it’s highly likely that some way down the line you’re going to be informed that your attendance at a court hearing is going to be required. In such circumstances there’s a good case for asking for a court hearing straightaway via the online process as it may help you focus on what you hope to achieve. What most people I see want to achieve is keep their driving licence because (usually) its loss will be a massive inconvenience.

To keep your licence when you’re perilously close to 12 points is not easy. The loss of your licence will probably cause hardship but will it be exceptional hardship? This is the thing; the problems personal and otherwise need to be much more than merely an inconvenience to you and others but exceptional. Truly you need to ask yourself if your circumstances could be regarded as exceptional. Having to catch two buses to get to work and two buses home again in the evening is unlikely to amount to exceptional hardship on its own; an inconvenience quite possibly but more than that is improbable. On the other hand if your job requires flexibility and time-keeping is critical and, furthermore, it’s a small company and the MD will struggle without your expertise reliably then maybe you have the makings of an exceptional hardship argument – even better if you are needed to run a sick relative to hospital every so often and there’s no one but you who can do that. A court hearing will be the only way and, furthermore, you should prepare yourself for giving evidence under oath. This is where taking legal advice from a lawyer with substantial experience of road traffic offences is generally a very good thing. And the earlier the better!

Michael McGhie, our Road Traffic expert will be pleased to talk with you about your case and discuss the options available to you. If you have  any queries please feel free to call us on 01202 877 400 or email michaelmcghie@newnham-jordan.co.uk.


This article is intended for general information purposes only and  shall not be deemed to be, or constitute legal advice. Newnham &  Jordan Solicitors cannot accept  responsibility for  any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in  respect of this  article or any external articles it may refer or link to.



Could changes to the driving test improve road safety?

The proposed changes to the Driving test to improve road safety

On the 14th of July the DVSA launched a consultation on changes to the driving test. Lesley Young (the Chief Driving Examiner for DVSA) wants to make changes to the UK’s driving exam format to improve road safety.

The proposals are for:

~The ‘independent driving’ part of the exam to be Increased from 10 to 20 minutes

~Candidates to follow directions on a sat nav instead of following road signs

~More real life scenarios (driving into and reversing out of a parking bay) to replace current manoeuvres such as ‘reverse around a corner’

~Candidates will be asked one of the two vehicle safety questions while the candidate is driving


Chart 9: Casualties by severity and road type, GB: 2015; Source: ‘Reported road casualties in Great Britain: main results 2015’ (Department for Transport)

Young people are one of the most vulnerable road users. Road collisions are the biggest killer of young people.

One in 5 people killed or seriously injured on the roads are in a collision where a car driver is aged between 17 and 24.

Road traffic collisions:

~are the leading cause of death for people aged between 15 and 24

~account for over a quarter of all deaths of those aged between 15 and 19

Most deaths happen on rural roads. These are roads where the speed limit is 40 mph or faster.

It’s not always possible to use these rural roads in the driving test because:

~driving test routes at the moment rely on good signage for candidates to follow, these don’t always lead to rural or other higher risk roads

~access is needed to side roads and other quieter roads to carry out the current manoeuvres

Lesley wants to make changes to the format of the test so higher risk roads can be used more. She believes the introduction of following directions from a sat nav to open up these types of roads.

DVSA has published a consultation asking for views on the changes. The deadline to have your say is 25 August 2016.

Could changes to the driving test improve road safety?
5 Top Tips For Summer Driving

5 Top Tips For Summer Driving

Safe summer driving blog

5 top tips for summer driving

The summer holidays are nearly upon us. If you’re planning a road trip this summer, it’s very important to make sure that you and your car are prepared. So here are 5 top tips for safe summer driving.


If your tyres are at the wrong pressure or even damaged, in the heat the risk of a blowout could be increased. It’s very important to check your tyres before any long journey. (Also remember to increase your tyre pressure for extra loads)

If you have a caravan you should also do the same. If any tyres on the caravan show signs of cracking in the side wall or in the tread groves, they should be replaced asap.


Dazzle from the sun can cause lots of accidents through the summer months. You can reduce the effect of glare by keeping your windscreen clear and by replacing worn or damaged windscreen wipers.

Hay fever

If you are a hay fever sufferer it’s always best to do the following:

  • Make sure any medication you’re taking doesn’t cause drowsiness
  • Close windows and air vents to reduce pollen grains in the car
  • Keep tissues close to hand
  • Clean mats and carpets regularly to get rid of dust



If you smoke, make sure you don’t just throw your cigarette out the window when you have finished. During the summer months’ verges and embankments can be come bone-dry and a smoldering cigarette may be enough to ignite road side grass.


When driving through the country side it’s common to get stuck behind a tractor, this can be very annoying but it’s important to remember these points when stuck behind these slow moving vehicles:

  • Keep plenty of distance between you and the tractor
  • Remember that a tractor may be longer than it appears
  • When passing a tractor make sure you have plenty of room to get past


Click here to read more of our driving blogs.

Are you fit to drive?

are you fit to drive main blog image

Driving requires a level of skill and the ability to interact with both the vehicle and the external environment. Rule 90, 91, 92, 93 and 94 of The Highway Code states the different factors that can affect a person’s ability to drive safely.

Safe driving requires some of the following:

  • vision
  • visuospatial perception
  • hearing
  • attention and concentration
  • memory
  • insight and understanding
  • judgement
  • adaptive strategies
  • good reaction time
  • planning and organisation
  • ability to self-monitor
  • sensation
  • muscle power and control
  • coordination


If a person develops a medical condition that could affect the safety of their driving, they should contact the DVLA as soon as possible. If a driver does not inform the DVLA, they could be fined up to £1,000. The DVLA have listed over 200 medical conditions for which people MAY need to notify them about.

The list below show some examples of conditions in which the DVLA should be informed about:

  • An epileptic event (seizure or fit).
  • Sudden attacks of disabling giddiness, fainting or blackouts.
  • Severe learning disability.
  • A pacemaker or implanted defibrillator device fitted.
  • Diabetes controlled by insulin or tablets that have a high risk of causing hypoglycaemia
  • Parkinson’s disease.
  • Any other chronic neurological condition.
  • Dementia or a serious problem with memory.
  • A major or minor cerebrovascular event (only if there is residual neurological or cognitive deficit one month after the event).
  • Multiple transient ischaemic attacks (TIAs) over a short period but not single TIA.
  • Any type of brain surgery, brain tumour or severe head injury involving inpatient treatment at hospital.
  • Any severe psychiatric illness or mental disorder including acute psychosis, mania and severe depressive illness if there are features which affect risk to drive safely or suicidal thoughts.
  • Continuing/permanent difficulty in the use of arms or legs which affects your ability to control a vehicle.
  • Dependence on or misuse of alcohol, illicit drugs or chemical substances in the previous three years (do not include drink/driving offences).
  • Any visual disability which affects BOTH eyes (do not declare short/long sight or colour blindness).
  • Narcolepsy or other primary hypersomnia.


See GOV.UK Health Conditions and Driving for a full list of potentially notifiable conditions.

Rule 90

Make sure that you are fit to drive. You MUST report to the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) any health condition likely to affect your driving.

Law RTA 1988 sect 94

Rule 91

Driving when you are tired greatly increases your risk of collision. To minimise this risk

  • make sure you are fit to drive. Do not begin a journey if you are tired. Get a good night’s sleep before embarking on a long journey
  • avoid undertaking long journeys between midnight and 6 am, when natural alertness is at a minimum
  • plan your journey to take sufficient breaks. A minimum break of at least 15 minutes after every two hours of driving is recommended
  • if you feel at all sleepy, stop in a safe place. Do not stop on the hard shoulder of a motorway
  • the most effective ways to counter sleepiness are to drink, for example, two cups of caffeinated coffee and to take a short nap (at least 15 minutes)

Rule 92

Vision. You MUST be able to read a vehicle number plate, in good daylight, from a distance of 20 metres (or 20.5 metres where the old style number plate is used). If you need to wear glasses (or contact lenses) to do this, you MUSTwear them at all times while driving. The police have the power to require a driver to undertake an eyesight test.

Laws RTA 1988 sect 96, & MV(DL)R reg 40 & sched 8

Rule 93

Slow down, and if necessary stop, if you are dazzled by bright sunlight.

Rule 94

At night or in poor visibility, do not use tinted glasses, lenses or visors if they restrict your vision.

This article is intended for general information purposes only and  shall not be deemed to be, or constitute legal advice. Newnham &  Jordan Solicitors cannot accept  responsibility for  any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in  respect of this  article or any external articles it may refer or link to.


Are you fit to drive?