In March this year penalty points for using a phone whilst driving doubled to 6 points and standard fines increased to £200 with a maximum of £1000.
At Plan we’re concerned that the urge to use smart phones could cost professional drivers their licenses.
Documenting poor driving
Many London black cabbies use their phones to document accidents involving Uber drivers and other driving infringements being committed. They often quickly record these scenes on their smart phones and post them on social media. However doing so could be jeopardising their own livelihoods and the safety of others.
Department for Transport (DfT) figures revealed that distracted drivers who were using their phone in some way played a part in 492 accidents in Britain in 2014. Of these accident 21 led to a fatality and 84 were classed as serious. The safety risks might not seem so dangerous whilst sat stationary but the Police operate a no tolerance policy to counter what is being described as an epidemic on the UK’s roads.
For any professional driver that depends on being on the road, 6 points could be enough to incur a totting up offence and the suspension of their licence. The painful irony that the American app firm could have found yet another way to put cabbies out of business would not be lost on the trade.
The below images feature on the Twitter hashtag #Ubered that is popular with cabbies.
Is it legal to use your mobile phone as a sat-nav?
Many would argue that lapses in concentration due to the use of sat-navs are the likely cause of a significant increase in the number of the accidents that private hire drivers are involved in. It is also the main reason the search query, “how to sue after a car accident” on google is constantly gaining traffic. The new law specifies that if you intend to use your phone as a sat nav it must be mounted in a hands-free holder. It is illegal to hold the phone whilst obtaining directions.
Sections of the London Assembly are lobbying for private hire drivers to be banned from using apps at the wheel as they believe they are responsible for an increase in accident numbers. They are supported by the London Cab Drivers Club who are seeking clarification from the Met Police and TfL about when and how mounted phones can be used. Currently TfL leave the responsibility with the individual drivers to ensure they are in full control of their vehicles and driving safely.
Are hands-free phone calls allowed while driving?
Fully hands-free phones calls are acceptable but touching or picking up the phone is illegal. Police have the authority to stop drivers if they suspect they are distracted by their hands-free phone.
Can I check my phone at all when behind the wheel?
You must be safely parked and have your engine turned off before you use your phone.