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Driving Advice & Safety

5 Tips to Help You Avoid Using Your Mobile Phone While Driving

January 18, 2024

4 min read

Leon McKenzie's avatar

Leon McKenzie

Content Writer

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Mobile phone with a blank screen on a table of the same colour

It's widely acknowledged these days that using a mobile phone while driving is incredibly dangerous. Unfortunately, many people continue to use smartphones in their car, regardless of the consequences. And the consequences are serious. Distracted driving (which includes using a phone at the wheel) is one of the most common causes of road accidents in the UK.

On top of that, you'll face a hefty penalty if caught. We're talking £200 on the spot and 6 points on your licence. Passed your test less than 2 years ago? You just lost your licence. Using your phone while driving (no matter how briefly) results in visual, manual and cognitive distraction. That's quite the holy trinity of distractions!

A quick text or brief call from the driver's seat puts your life and the welfare of those around you at risk. It's time to think safety first and shake this nasty habit! Need some extra help? Here are 5 top tips to help you avoid using your phone while driving.

1. Plan ahead

Field notes booklet with pen on top of map

Smartphones come with all kinds of helpful features, which is why we spend so much of our time glued to them. The annoying thing is that a few of these apps can be very handy when heading out on a car journey.

Need to work out directions? Pull up a map. Want to figure out where to grab a drink along the way? Search for the coffee shops that line your route. Need to let someone know you're on your way? Shoot them a text... You get the idea.

The best way to avoid using your phone in the car to achieve these tasks is to get everything organised before you even set off. A novel idea, we know! Get your sat nav set up, contact anyone who needs to know your movements, pick a refreshment stop and then you can jump in the car and get the engine started.

If you're lucky (or unlucky, depending on who it is) enough to have a passenger with you, they should be in charge of all phone use in the car. Even passing the handset between you for a few seconds could land you in hot water with the authorities. So, make like a boy scout and be prepared—no need for a phone when the details are in your brain!

2. Hide and no seek

Glove box inside of car

Another great way to ditch your phone dependency is to keep it at arm's length when you're driving. By arm's length we actually mean the length of at least 2 arms. You're even less likely to be tempted to use your phone if you can't see it.

The glove box is a perfect place to store your phone while the car's engine is running. Move aside the out-of-date sweets and old CDs and nestle it in there for safe keeping. Out of sight, out of mind. If your reliance on your phone is verging on addiction, you could even chuck it in the boot.

Once it's safely locked in there it's going to take a lot of effort to slow down, pull over, turn the engine off and retrieve it. If you do find yourself doing this for no good reason, it might be time to take a long, hard look in the mirror. An actual mirror, that is—not the camera on your phone. Sigh.

3. Invest in the right tech

Dashboard of a car with hands free mobile phone in use

Using a handheld device while the engine is running is illegal, but hands-free sets have actually been given the green light. So, if it's absolutely necessary for you to use your phone while driving, you must invest in one of these.

Keep in mind that just because hands-free sets are legal, they're not particularly safe. Conducting phone calls or using voice commands will still distract you from the road. We would advise that you put off any serious, deep or potentially emotional interactions until you are safely out of the car. Even Siri has the ability to royally tick us off sometimes! If a chat does get heated, pull the car over and take a breather.

4. Find other ways to pass the time

Cars in stationary traffic

We get it, being stuck in bumper to bumper traffic is no fun at all. When your phone is sitting right there, it's very easy to reach over and have a quick scroll through Instagram. Is liking that meme really worth getting in an accident for, though? It'll still be there when you get home (along with 200 new ones—God bless the internet).

To prevent these kind of temptations, turn to different ways to pass the time. Have a good nosey at what everyone around you is doing, see if you can spot any potential hazards, think about the rest of your journey, or pop the radio on and belt out a few tunes. OK, so the possibilities aren't exactly endless, but your phone needn't be the answer!

5. Flick that switch

Mobile phone with a blank screen on a table of the same colour

The most obvious thing to do is just 'turn the bloody thing off', as my Dad would say. If you're following the other tips on this list, you shouldn't need your phone in the car anyway. Time to put your will power to the test and make that sacrifice. Parting is such sweet sorrow (and all that), but it's only temporary! If going cold turkey sounds like too much of an ask, start by putting your phone on silent and turning it screen-side down.

There are also various apps and settings that you can use to prevent your phone distracting you on a drive. Apple, for example, have a Do Not Disturb While Driving feature. When activated, your phone will be able to detect that you are driving by picking up your car's Bluetooth. This will then automatically send a message to anyone who contacts you, explaining that you are currently driving and so cannot be reached. Snazzy, eh?

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