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Picking up phones during emergency alert test might result in drivers receiving £200 fine and six penalty points.


Drivers could be fined £200 and six demerit points if they pick up their phone during the government’s 3pm Sunday emergency alert test

Drivers could be fined £200 if they pick up their phone when the government’s emergency warning test goes off.

For around 10 seconds from 3pm on Sunday millions of smartphones and tablets in the UK will sound a loud alarm and vibrate in a trial of a system that aims to warn the public if there is a danger to life in the vicinity. They will also display a message about what is happening.

Drivers caught with a phone behind the wheel risk six penalty points and a fine of £200, the AA warned. The group added that motorists may prefer to turn off their electronic devices for Sunday’s test, as laws prohibiting the use of cellphones still apply.

It comes as women’s charities expressed concern this week that victims of domestic violence could discover any “emergency phone” during the test.

Drivers caught with a phone behind the wheel face a six-point penalty and a fine of £200

The alert, which will be sent to all UK phones on Sunday, looks something like this

The alert, which will be sent to all UK phones on Sunday, looks something like this

AA campaign manager Lorna Lee said the test is “very welcome” because the system “could be very useful in certain situations.”

But she added: “The test does carry certain risks, which need to be managed.

“Especially for drivers, familiarity with the test is vital to avoid panic if it sounds.

“If you are driving when the alarm sounds, do not touch your phone to stop the alarm, as normal driving laws still apply.”

“Instead, wait in a safe place to pull over—not the hard shoulder or emergency area—acknowledge the alarm and continue your journey.

“Some drivers prefer to turn off their phones in advance if they know they will be driving during the warning test.”

RAC spokesman Rod Dennis said: “We don’t foresee any driver panic with this test as the plans are quite well publicized and the phone tone will only be on for a short time.

“However, it’s worth making drivers aware that the alert will interrupt any hands-free conversations they may be having and take over the car’s screen for anyone using their phone as a satnav or to play music or podcasts.”

The UK’s warnings will initially be used to alert people to severe weather events, including flooding and bushfires in their area.

The system is modeled after similar schemes in the US, Canada, the Netherlands and Japan.

(Stock Image) One of the great British virtues used to be the ability to keep a cool head in a crisis.  This kind of scaremongering seems designed to send us all into a state of paroxysmal panic

Emergency sirens will ring from UK telephones during a government trial on April 23

The government said on Monday that the system could later be used for other forms of emergencies, such as terror attacks, nuclear threats and dangerous criminals on the loose.

Women’s charities have warned victims of domestic violence and abuse to switch off any emergency phone well in advance of the test so that it is not discovered by an abuser.

But the Prime Minister’s official spokesman this week downplayed the concerns. “This is about helping us protect the public from emergencies like flooding,” he said.

“It gives the government and emergency services the ability to send alerts to people’s phones if there is a danger to life and people need to act.

“We have conducted an extensive five-week communications campaign and successful testing in East Suffolk and Reading where we have not raised any of these concerns.”

The spokesperson added: “We have worked with Refuge and others to ensure that people are aware of the system and, where applicable, know how to disable the alert if it is right for them.

“We have worked with sports and event organizers, the emergency services, carriers to determine the best time for this test.

“But it’s important to understand that it’s about protecting and potentially saving lives by having a system that’s been used in a number of other countries and used to good effect.

“The US, Canada, the Netherlands, Japan are all countries that have used these systems.

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