The dangers of using your mobile phone while you are driving have been widely reported. However, it is a practice that is still widespread.

Even though the laws pertaining to mobile phone use while driving have become stricter, a study by the Department of Transport indicated that as many as 445,000 motorists are still using their mobile phones while they are driving.

Also, a recent report by car insurance company RAC revealed that about 20% of motorists admit to checking their social media in traffic, while 6% say they hold and use their mobile phone while driving “most or all of the time”.

Here is everything you need to know about what’s legal and what’s illegal about using a mobile device in a car.

Can you use your mobile phone hands-free while driving?

The law says that it is illegal to hold a mobile device or sat-nav while riding a motorcycle or driving a car. However, it is legal to use a mobile phone while driving if its operation is completely hands-free. Therefore, you must have access to a Bluetooth headset, built-in sat-nav functionality, voice-command capability, and a dashboard holder or a windscreen mount.

Also, you must complete the hands-free set up before you begin to drive so you can accept calls without touching the phone.

If you plan to use sat-nav on your phone when you drive, you must make sure that you have fixed it to the windscreen or the dashboard, that you can see it clearly when driving but that it does not block your view, and that you don’t have to interact with it or hold it.

However, even if your mobile phone is completely hands-free, the police still have the right to stop you if they think your mobile device has distracted you.

Can you use a mobile phone if your car is not in motion?

The law states that you can only legally use a hand-held mobile phone when you’re behind the wheel when the car is parked or if you must call 112 or 999 in an emergency and it’s not practical or safe to stop your car.

Your car is not parked when sitting at a traffic light or waiting for traffic to move, and it is not legal to use a hand-held mobile device in those situations.

What are the penalties if you are caught using your phone while driving?

From 1 March 2017, the penalties for using a mobile phone while driving have increased. If you are caught, you will be subject to a £200 fine and will receive six points on your licence.

However, if you have only passed your driving test within the past two years, you will lose your licence to drive, as new drivers can only have six points during their first two years behind the wheel

How can you stop using your mobile phone while driving?

RAC suggests that the best way to avoid being distracted by your mobile phone while driving is to turn it off. It recommends that you treat your car like a plane and switch your phone to flight mode before getting behind the wheel.