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).
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.