Highway Code changes: Motorists warned scrolling on phone while waiting at a drive-thru could mean huge fine

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Recent changes to the Highway Code mean that scrolling on your phone at the drive-thru, even while stationary, could mean you have to cough up hundreds of pounds if caught.

The local drive-thru is a quick and easy way to grab a tasty pick-me-up, but drivers are now being warned not to be too relaxed when collecting their meal or drink due to recent changes to the UK Highway Code. The shake-up means that if you’re caught at a drive-thru on your phone with the engine running, you could be landed with six penalty points on your licence along with a hefty fine.

Select Car Leasing issued the advice as part of its UK Drive-Thru index, which rates the UK’s best and worst drive-through’s, this week. Graham Conway, managing director at the firm, said that the changes came into place last year.

“This new Highway Code means that if you are at a drive-thru and pay for your food via your mobile while the engine is still on, you could be given a £200 fine and six points on your licence, if the engine is still on,” he said.

“The same applies even if your vehicle is stationary. As lots of people nowadays pay for their food via Apple Pay or on their mobile device, it’s imperative that drivers know this.

“That said, when you are collecting your food at the window at McDonald’s, it’s important that your engine is turned off. In addition to calling or texting, this law also applies to using phones to take photos or videos, playing games, or scrolling through playlists at the drive-thru.”

Mr Graham added that the rules don’t apply to all hands-free devices, such as a sat-nav, which is fine to use in the same situation if secured.

What does the Highway Code say?

According to the Highway Code on the Gov.uk website, It’s illegal to hold and use a phone, sat nav, tablet, or any device that can send or receive data, while driving or riding a motorcycle. This means you must not use a device in your hand for any reason, whether online or offline.

For example, you must not text, make calls, take photos or videos, or browse the web. The law still applies to you if you’re:

  • stopped at traffic lights
  • queuing in traffic
  • supervising a learner driver
  • driving a car that turns off the engine when you stop moving
  • holding and using a device that’s offline or in flight mode
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