Drivers face £200 fine if they pick up phones during emergency test alert

Drivers will be charged £200 if they pick up their phones behind the wheel during a government emergency test alert.

The AA said people may prefer to switch off their mobiles to prevent any distractions.

Anyone caught using them will not only face a fine but have six points added to their licence.

At 3pm on April 23 millions of smartphones and tablets across the UK will emit a loud alarm and vibrate for around 10 seconds.

It is part of a government trial of a system aiming to warn the public if there is a danger to life nearby.

AA campaigns manager Lorna Lee said the test is ‘very welcome’ as the system ‘could be very useful in certain situations’.

She added: ‘The test does bring certain risks though, which need to be managed.

‘For drivers in particular, awareness of the test is vital to avoid any panic when it sounds.

‘If you are driving when the alert sounds, you must not touch your phone to stop the alert as the normal driving laws still apply.

‘Instead, wait for a safe place to pull over – not the hard shoulder nor emergency area – acknowledge the alert and continue your journey.

‘Some drivers may prefer to switch their phone off in advance if they know they will be driving during the alert test.’

Similar systems are used in the US, Canada, the Netherlands and Japan.

The UK’s alert will be used to warn people about severe weather situations like floods and wildfires.

It could later be used for terror attacks, nuclear threats and dangerous criminals on the loose.

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