It has been illegal to use a hand-held phone while driving on the public highway in the UK since December 2003, with the current fine standing at £200 and six penalty points. The law is simple; you are not allowed to touch your smartphone while driving, even when sat in traffic.
Thankfully, there are plenty of options to keep you connected while ensuring your eyes remain on the road and your hands stay on the wheel.
These include systems like Apple CarPay and Android Auto, where a smartphone is connected to the car and a simplified interface is shown on the vehicle’s touchscreen display. You can also connect the phone’s audio output to the car using Bluetooth or an audio cable, and you can use a phone mount.
There are also the best car phone mounts that attach to the windscreen and dashboard are legal across the UK. Some cars, like the Volkswagen Up, even have integrated phone mounts in place of their own display.
Are car phone mounts legal?
But, while the law states that “a dashboard holder or mat” and “a windscreen mount” are both legal, there is no further guidance on using these accessories. Instead, the Highway Code states that you must not be distracted by hands-free equipment such as sat nav systems. The Highway Code also states that obstructions on the windscreen (like a phone holder, sat-nav or a dash cam) must not intrude more than 40mm into the area swept by the windscreen wiper.
Similarly, a vehicle may fail its MOT if the driver’s view of the road ahead is sufficiently blocked. Covering their view of the sky or bonnet does not count in this case.
If the police consider your phone holder is obstructing your view of the road ahead, then the police could issue you with a fine. However, there is no specific law governing exactly where a phone holder can and cannot be placed.
As such, it is worth thinking carefully about where to put the holder. In some cases, it can be best to buy a holder that attaches to the dashboard air vents, and therefore avoiding blocking the windscreen entirely. But you must then make sure the phone isn’t located too far away, so that looking at it distracts you from the road.
It is also worth making sure any cables attached to your phone are positioned so that they don’t interfere with operating the car. This can be tricky in some vehicles, where USB ports are located below the dashboard but stowage large enough for a modern smartphone is in the armrest, meaning a USB cable is stretched across the gear lever and handbrake.
While the law is clear on not touching your smartphone while driving, the rules remain open to interpretation. Must an Uber driver be off the public highway before they can accept an incoming ride request? Can you tap the screen of a phone in a windscreen mount to cancel an incoming call?
Ultimately, some rules are open to interpretation, with it being the responsibility of individual police officers and the courts to determine what is legal and what isn’t. Government advice sums up the issue, stating: “The police can stop you if they think you’re not in control because you’re distracted and you can be prosecuted.”
To answer the initial question, yes it is legal to use a phone mount in your car. But you must use common sense and exercise caution when it comes to placing it correctly, and do not interact with your phone while driving.
So, check out the best car phone mounts now to save your licence!