Driving safety

Advice for drivers

Remember to:

  • Leave room for cyclists at traffic lights. Drivers shouldn't enter the advanced stop line box when the light is red. This space is reserved for the safety of cyclists and you maybe liable for a £100 fixed penalty and three points on your licence
  • Give cyclists room. Keep a safe distance from cyclists and don't attempt to overtake when there is not enough space. Give as much space as you might for another car. Cyclists might use the middle of the lane if they feel it's too narrow for cars to overtake, so hang back if you can't pass safely.
  • Look when you leave the car or lorry. Make sure you check to see if there is anything coming before opening your car door or before turning left or right - they might be filtering through slow moving or stationary traffic
  • Be careful at junctions. Be aware of cyclists when approaching junctions. Some junctions have advanced stop lines to allow cycles to be safely positioned ahead of other traffic. Keep this space free for cyclists. Motorists could be fined £100 and receive three points on their licence for crossing the advanced stop line on a red light
  • Driving in tunnels. Don't overtake or change lanes unless directed to do so by a road sign. Don't stop in the tunnel unless instructed to do so or in an emergency. If you break down, get to the walkway and use the emergency phone. Don't attempt to change a wheel or push your vehicle - wait for assistance

Using a mobile device while driving

It has been illegal to use a handheld mobile phone or electronic device while driving, or while stopped with the engine on, since 2003.

The law says:

  • It's illegal to use a handheld mobile phone or electronic device when driving. This includes using your device to follow a map, read a text or check social media. This applies even if you're stopped at traffic lights or queuing in traffic
  • You can only use a handheld phone if you are safely parked with the engine switched off or need to call 999 or 112 in an emergency, and it's unsafe or impractical to stop
  • Using hands-free (where the phone is in a cradle or you are using earphones or a Bluetooth connection) is not illegal. However, if this distracts you and affects your ability to drive safely, you can still be prosecuted by the police
  • It is illegal to use handheld microphones or to hold your phone out on loudspeaker

The use of apps, for example for navigation, on a cradle-mounted phone is lawful if done with common sense and good judgement. The government offers further guidance on the THINK! campaign website.

Since March 2022, if you use a handheld mobile device while behind the wheel you risk a £1000 fine and six penalty points on your licence. Having points on your licence could increase the cost of your insurance and you can be banned from driving if you get 12 points in three years. If you get 6 points in the first two years after passing your test, you will lose your licence.

Mounting your device

Many drivers use their phones hands-free as navigation devices. It's important to understand the rules about where they can be safely mounted.

You shouldn't put or fix anything on your windscreen that will obscure your view of the road ahead.

If you place a cradled device on the area on your windscreen that is covered by your wipers (also known as the 'swept area'), you are committing an offence. At present, if you're prosecuted, you face a fine of up to £100 and three points on your licence.

Driving conditions can change rapidly, and hazards such as pedestrians suddenly stepping in front of you mean you need to have a clear view of the road. Having a cluttered windscreen increases your likelihood of becoming distracted or not spotting potential dangers.

In Great Britain, if you use a suction-mounted cradle that intrudes more than 4cm into the secondary (blue) wiper clearance zone, or more than 1cm into the primary (red) zone, you are committing a serious traffic offence (Road Traffic Act 1988). Your vehicle would not be considered roadworthy and would fail an MOT.