UK to Close Loophole That Allows Phone Users to Take Photos or Play Games While Driving

The British government is closing a loophole in U.K. driving laws that allowed some smartphone users to escape punishment for picking up and using their mobile device to take a photo or play a game while driving (via BBC News).

distracted driving
As it stands, making phone calls and sending text messages are banned while driving on roads in England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland. Drivers can get six penalty points and a £200 fine if they use a hand-held phone when driving. Drivers who passed their driving test in the last two years can also lose their license.

The current applicable law says it is illegal to use a device "which performs an interactive communication" while driving. However, drivers have successfully argued that filming or taking photos while driving does not match the wording in the current legislation.

For example, in 2019 Ramsey Barreto was found guilty of using his phone to film a crash in north London two years ago, but the 51-year-old successfully appealed against the conviction.

Two High Court judges subsequently criticized the 16-year-old law on using mobile phones, which they said had failed to evolve with the rise of smartphones.

BBC News reports that the new legislation will apply across the U.K. and is expected to come into effect early next year.

Mobiles will still be able to be used to pay for a drive-through takeaway, and drivers will still be able to use devices hands-free under the plans, according to the Department for Transport.

Top Rated Comments

Apple Knowledge Navigator Avatar
19 weeks ago
About time. It’s so ridiculously selfish when you see people looking down at their phones thinking it’s okay.
Score: 26 Votes (Like | Disagree)
MacBookGamer Avatar
19 weeks ago

We're not a free country, all this is about really.
Muh freedoms to kill people on highways are being taken away.
Score: 25 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Unggoy Murderer Avatar
19 weeks ago

We're not a free country, all this is about really.
So, you think people should be allowed to be distracted, while driving a tonne or two of metal at speed? Okay. :rolleyes::rolleyes::rolleyes:
Score: 22 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Unggoy Murderer Avatar
19 weeks ago

And what if you are not the driver, but a car passenger, and you happen to be on vacation, and wanted a snapshot of the scenic vista past your window? That is now banned?
"The current applicable law says it is illegal to use a device "which performs an interactive communication" while driving."

It's in the article, "while driving".
Score: 21 Votes (Like | Disagree)
MasterHowl Avatar
19 weeks ago
I have very little sympathy for folks who want to use their phones while driving. It's incredibly selfish. Nothing is urgent or important enough to use your phone while controlling a car. Either (a) do what you must before you set off (e.g., punch in directions) or (b) pull over to type a message. It is not much to ask.
The number of people who I see with their eyes down on their phone (and off the road) is quite astounding. Six points and a £200 fine don't go far enough in my opinion.

We're not a free country, all this is about really.
We are lucky enough in the UK to live in one of the freest countries in the world. Thankfully those freedoms stop short of allowing people to use a mobile phone while controlling a several-tonne metal machine on wheels traveling fast enough to easily kill people in places where other people walk/drive.
Score: 15 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Unggoy Murderer Avatar
19 weeks ago

What about navigation?
Configure directions before you set off, and make sure the phone is in a position where you don't have to be holding it.
Score: 13 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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