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Drivers be warned: These new laws come into force TODAY - Wednesday, March 1st


Police will be cracking down on child seats which don't meet regulations and getting tougher on drivers who use electronic devices behind the wheel

New laws affecting drivers come into force today, Wednesday, March 1st.

From today, child car seat manufacturers will have to follow new safety rules, and certain models will become illegal to sell.

If you’re ever tempted to pick up a phone - or any device connected to the internet - while you’re driving, then you should change your ways and drill home the message that it’s safer to keep your hands on the wheel and eyes on the road ahead. Of course, it is already illegal and dangerous to pick up your phone while you’re in control of a car, but from today, the penalties get much tougher. New drivers could even automatically lose their licence.

Here is how the laws will change from Wednesday, March 1st.

The punishment will double for drivers who use their handheld mobile phone behind the wheel

The fine for holding your phone in your hand will rise to £200 and guilty drivers will also be slapped with a six point penalty.

Currently, you can get a £100 fine and a three point penalty if you are caught.

It has been illegal to wield your mobile behind the wheel since 2003, but many motorists flout the law and the Government wants to toughen up.

Prime Minister Theresa May has indicated she would like the crime to have the same stigma as drink driving.

And new drivers tempted to check their texts or take a road trip selfie risk losing their licence.

That’s because any driver issued with six points within two years of passing their test is automatically disqualified.

The AA carried out a poll with Populus, with over 17,000 Brits taking part.

  • 71 per cent said texting while driving is more likely to cause a crash than drink driving

  • 29 per cent said drink driving is likely to be catastrophic on the roads

  • 51 per cent of 18-to-24 year olds confessed that they can’t bring themselves to turn off their mobile phones before driving

  • only 12 per cent of over 65s said they find it difficult to shut down their mobile

  • 74 per cent of over 55s say the risk of experiencing a crash is higher when texting while driving

  • 47 per cent of 18-to-24 year olds believe driving after drinking is more likely to cause an accident

  • The AA say you are twice as likely to crash text driving than you are drink driving

And it’s not just phones, the law affects any web-enabled device

The same rules apply to any electronic equipment which can be connected to the internet.

So if you have a tablet or iPod touch and film yourself driving, make sure you are not tempted to hold it while the engine is running. You even need to be careful if you’re changing a song on an mp3 player.

If you need to use your phone in your car, make sure you are safely parked and your engine is switched off. Otherwise, you could be caught. You are not innocent if you pick up the device while waiting at a red light or have your engine running while you sit in a lay-by.

And remember: If you are supervising a learner driver, you can not use a handheld phone or similar device, as you are in charge of the vehicle.

Check your child car seat - some designs can not be legally sold after today

Have you got a backless booster seat in your car?

Well if you do, think about changing it, as the Government does not think they’re safe enough for young kids.

From today, Wednesday 1st March, manufacturers will be banned from flogging certain models aimed at young children.

Under the new rules, backless booster seats (which act like a cushion by placing children higher up on the back seat but without offering any extra protection) are only suitable for kids who are taller than 125cm and weigh over 22kg.

The backless booster seats can still be advertised for older children and manufacturers will have to make that clear on packaging.

Parents who have the old seats will not be punished - the law is aimed at the manufacturers, and the Government’s hope is the old seats will be phased out.

Does my child need a car seat?

Children under 135cm in height or under 12-years-old must travel in a child car seat. Older and taller kids must - like adults - use a seatbelt.

A child car seat must:

Conform to the United Nations standard, ECE Regulation 44.04 (or R 44.03) or to the new i-Size regulation, R129. Look for the ‘E’ mark label on the seat.

Be suitable for your child’s weight and size.

Be correctly fitted according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Be in a safe condition.

Your child should only be using a backless seat if they are taller than 125cm and weigh more than 22kg.

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