Drivers warned of £1k fines for switching off emergency alert test this weekend

Drivers are told to not switch off their phones this weekend.

It comes as the government prepares to test its new emergency alert system on Sunday (April 23) at 3pm.

While there are concerns it could be distracting due to its siren-like noise, motorists shouldn't switch off their devices.

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In fact, Brits could be breaking the law for tampering with their phones while being at the wheel.

James Armstrong, from Veygo, told Daily Record that touching your phone could violate Rule 149 of the Highway Code.

The rule states it's against the law to use a hand-held device behind the wheel.

It could lead to a £200 fine and up to six penalty points which could even rise to £1,000 if it's taken to court.

The UK Government advice said: "You should not read or otherwise respond to an emergency alert while driving or riding a motorcycle.

"If you are driving, you should continue to drive and not respond to the noise or attempt to pick up the mobile phone and deal with the message. Find somewhere safe and legal to stop before reading the message.

"If there is nowhere safe or legal to stop close by, and nobody else is in the vehicle to read the alert, tune into live radio and wait for bulletins until you can find somewhere safe and legal to stop."

If you're planning a journey in your car on April 23 and are concerned of the alert, you can opt out.

To opt out, search for "emergency alerts" in your settings and turn off "severe alerts" or "extreme alerts".

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You must do this before you get behind the wheel.

However, it's advisable to keep them on for your own safety.

Officials from the Whitehall emergencies Cobra committee plan to use the new alert system to warn of local floods, storm surges and wildfires.

But it could also be deployed to ask the public to to look out for a suspect car as police race to rescue kidnap victims; clear areas of people if intelligence suggests a bomb is about to explode; warn of escaped, dangerous prisoners; or tell householders to shut windows and doors if a tyre factory is ablaze, spewing poisonous gases across communities.

The system will only be triggered where "necessary to protect life and limb or extreme damage to property".

Officials spent months preparing for Sunday's trial, with the system activated within the last month.

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