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UK government bans playing mobile phone games while driving

Pokémon no-go.

Any handheld use of a mobile phone while driving will become illegal, the government has announced.

Details published today by the Department of Transport specifically call out mobile phone games as an activity which will become illegal while driving.

Anyone caught by police behind the wheel with their mobile phone in hand will face a £200 fixed penalty notice and six points on their driving licence.

Do not do this.

Currently, it is only illegal to text or call using a mobile phone while driving. But the law is being strengthened and the highway code will change to make it illegal to use a handheld mobile phone in virtually any circumstance.

You will no longer be able to take photos or videos, scroll through music playlists on your phone, or quickly catch a creature in Pokémon Go.

This includes while a car is stationary at a traffic light or in a traffic jam.

I don't drive myself but have seen some terrible road etiquette from others who play Pokémon Go in cars around my local area - with various iPhones and iPads laid out across the dashboard. If you're reading this, you know who you are.

There are still exceptions for using a device attached to a cradle, such as for using your phone as a sat-nav, and for holding your device while stationary to make a contactless payment - for example at a drive-through or toll booth.

The law change follows a public consultation on the issue, with the vast majority in favour of stricter controls.

"Driver distraction can be deadly and using a handheld phone at the wheel is never worth the risk," said Mary Williams OBE, boss of road safety charity Brake. "This important road safety decision by government, coinciding with Road Safety Week, is very welcomed.

"This news is particularly welcomed by families suffering bereavement and catastrophic injury due to drivers being distracted by phones. The theme for Road Safety Week is road safety heroes - we can all be road safety heroes by giving driving our full attention."

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About the Author
Tom Phillips avatar

Tom Phillips


Tom is Eurogamer's Editor-in-Chief. He writes lots of news, some of the puns and makes sure we put the accent on Pokémon. Tom joined Eurogamer in 2010 following a stint running a Nintendo fansite, and still owns two GameCubes. He also still plays Pokémon Go every day.