Drivers warned of massive fines and licence points for using popular traffic apps

Using a phone in a car

Punishments were increased in March 2022 to crack down on people using phones in cars

Felix Reeves

By Felix Reeves

Published: 06/10/2023

- 10:11

Motorists could be fined as much as £2,500 if they are caught tapping their phone at the wheel

Britons are being warned about potential fines for using traffic apps when at the wheel even if they only touch the screen once.

Traffic apps on mobile phones and sat navs have become second nature for the majority of drivers, with technology proving useful to alert drivers to any potential road obstructions.

Popular traffic apps like Google Maps and Waze, as well as sat navs, sometimes prompt drivers to tap the screen to notify them of changes.

This could include taking a detour to avoid traffic or, in the case of Waze, asking them if an accident or impediment is still holding up traffic.

WATCH NOW: Drivers caught using phones at the wheel

While these measures make a massive difference to the driver in terms of saving time, it could lead to them being fined.

An overhaul of the motoring system was unveiled in March 2022 when punishments were increased for people using their phones when driving.

Drivers can get six penalty points on their driving licence and a £200 fine if they hold or use a phone, sat nav, tablet or any device when driving or riding a motorcycle.

If taken to court, people can be banned from driving or riding and receive a maximum fine of £1,000, which can rise to £2,500 if they are driving a lorry or bus.

The new definition of “using” a phone includes checking the time, unlocking the device, checking notifications, receiving a call and even illuminating the screen.

There are only a handful of exceptions like needing to call 999 or 112, making a contactless payment in a car that is not moving and using the device to park the vehicle remotely.

Writing on Reddit, one driver admitted that they had received a fine for using the Waze app while at the wheel.

Ironically, the app prompted him to answer if there was a police presence in the area, with the driver pressing “yes”, but was seen touching the phone, thus receiving the fine.

Waze is often used by motorists to alert them to any speed limit changes or if police officers are monitoring speed limits in the area.

In some areas, including France, drivers must switch the technology off as it is illegal to use a mobile speed detector, which is contained in popular apps.

Some drivers have been stung by the new laws, with road safety organisations keen to see a crackdown on people using phones at the wheel.

Gary Digva, founder of Road Angel, urged drivers to avoid using their phones or other devices at all costs to ensure all road users are safe.

He added: “Most sat navs are updated live collecting information on things such as speed limits and police locations without the need for user interaction.

“Using devices while driving has been shown to cause severe accidents, with almost 500 people injured in incidents where the motorist was using their phone. It’s time a clear message was sent to motorists that it is never acceptable.


The Waze app

Drivers are being urged to avoid tapping their phones when prompted with a maps update ​


“Not only can being on your phone whilst driving lead to hefty fines and points but it also puts a lot of people in danger, that’s why it’s really important to make sure you have the right set up and equipment for a safe journey, no matter where you’re travelling.”

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