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

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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.

Article Link: UK to Close Loophole That Allows Phone Users to Take Photos or Play Games While Driving
 
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Unggoy Murderer

macrumors 6502a
Jan 28, 2011
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Edinburgh, Scotland
Wholly support the proposals, and I don't think punishments go far enough. £200's hardly anything to a lot of people and therefore not an effective deterrent - it should be upped to level 4 (up to £2500) instead of the current 1 fine, and people should lose their licence regardless of how long they've been driving.

Apart from being downright dangerous, the amount of delay it causes when people are too busy scrolling Facebook at traffic lights and whatnot is just ridiculous in Edinburgh.
 
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Unggoy Murderer

macrumors 6502a
Jan 28, 2011
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Edinburgh, Scotland
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".
 
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Moakesy

macrumors 6502a
Mar 1, 2013
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UK
What about navigation?
A phone in a cradle is fine, so you can make a phone call hands free as well for example.

What you can't do is hold the phone in your hand. Picking up a phone to enter a sat-nav destination is not allowed (in future), but using the same screen whilst it's in a cradle is OK, as it is no different to using the car's in-built display.

There is a different law that covers looking at the screen for entertainment, for example, having Netflix show on your screen. Basically, if the driver can see the screen for movies / TV etc, it's illegal. I have seen someone watching football with the phone on their dash whilst driving though....he was all over the road.
 
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Crazy Badger

macrumors 65816
Apr 1, 2008
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Scotland
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?

Then you are not 'driving' and can snap away! Completely agree with the changes, which should become law immediately. Lots of evidence that using a mobile phone while driving is more likely to result in accidents and there is no genuine need to do so. If using for navigation, set it up before setting off.
 
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Solomani

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Sep 25, 2012
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Slapfish, North Carolina
"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".

Ah gotcha. I just hope they don't go to the next draconian step: UK demands Apple/Samsung to disable any smartphone photo or video features "While Car Motion is Detected".

Already texting can be disabled (as an option) while driving motion is detected. And I have no problem with that.

The point here is that the smartphone is not smart enough to know who is doing the driving. It only detects when a car is in motion (and thus assumes that the iPhone is in the car). The phone cannot know if you are the driver, or a passenger on a bus, etc.
 
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MasterHowl

macrumors 65816
Oct 3, 2010
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North of England
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.
 
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Unggoy Murderer

macrumors 6502a
Jan 28, 2011
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Edinburgh, Scotland
So you are not allowed to hold your phone in your hand while driving, but you can hold coffee or other stuff. What if I hold a video camera?!
I think the way things are worded in law is "to be distracted". So, if holding a coffee or video camera was impeding your ability to safely control the motor vehicle, I think you'd struggle to get out of it in court.
 
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Unggoy Murderer

macrumors 6502a
Jan 28, 2011
512
1,237
Edinburgh, Scotland
Ah gotcha. I just hope they don't go to the next draconian step: UK demands Apple/Samsung to disable any smartphone photo or video features "While Car Motion is Detected".

Already texting can be disabled (as an option) while driving motion is detected. And I have no problem with that.

The point here is that the smartphone is not smart enough to know who is doing the driving. It only detects when a car is in motion (and thus assumes that the iPhone is in the car). The phone cannot know if you are the driver, or a passenger on a bus, etc.
I don't think something like that could be practically enforced. The number of people are a passenger in a car, on a bus, train, etc will be far higher than the number of people actually driving a vehicle. If there was some "magic" way a driver could be reliably detected somehow, I'd fully support it.
 
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danckwerts

macrumors regular
Jun 7, 2008
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Richmond upon Thames
While this is a sensible change to the legislation, it shouldn't make much difference in practice. Even without the change, drivers could be prosecuted for dangerous driving when using a phone to film while driving. There was only a problem because prosecutors charged people with the wrong offence.
 
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bandrews

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Jul 18, 2008
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Ah gotcha. I just hope they don't go to the next draconian step: UK demands Apple/Samsung to disable any smartphone photo or video features "While Car Motion is Detected".

Already texting can be disabled (as an option) while driving motion is detected. And I have no problem with that.

The point here is that the smartphone is not smart enough to know who is doing the driving. It only detects when a car is in motion (and thus assumes that the iPhone is in the car). The phone cannot know if you are the driver, or a passenger on a bus, etc.

Why on earth would they ban someone who isn't driving from using a phone in a moving vehicle?
 
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Unsupported

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Jul 23, 2020
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Murcia, Spain.
I think the way things are worded in law is "to be distracted". So, if holding a coffee or video camera was impeding your ability to safely control the motor vehicle, I think you'd struggle to get out of it in court.

The law is actually worded as "Not Being In Proper Control Of A Motor Vehicle":


 
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