Taxi drivers CAN still accept taxi app bookings while driving safely if the device remains in a cradle confirms taxi representatives following recent changes in the law on the use of handheld devices.
The Licensed Taxi Drivers’ Association (LTDA) has allayed the concerns of London taxi drivers who use mobile phone devices to accept rides on platforms such as FREE NOW and Gett.
As of March 25, 2022, motorists are now deemed to be breaking the law if they use a portable mobile phone while driving for any use, including taking photos or videos, scrolling through playlists or playing games – as the government closes a loophole previously exploited by dangerous drivers to escape conviction.
Anyone caught using their handheld device while driving could face a fine of up to £1,000 as well as 6 points on their license or a driving ban altogether.
The LTDA has been pushing for some exemptions to the new rules, particularly regarding payments. Taxi drivers accepting card payments using their phones and other handheld devices will be EXEMPT from the new rules for the use of cellphones.
Steve McNamara, LTDA General Secretary, told members: “One of our main concerns with the original proposals to change the Cell Phone Use Act was that members accepting payment through a payment device specific, or their mobile phone, at the roadside were fined and 6 points, simply for being paid.
“During the initial lobbying and engagement of the LTDA through the consultation process, our very real concerns were addressed with suggestions that members could ‘find a convenient parking spot’ or ‘ensure that the taxi was off” or similar totally unworkable solutions. Fortunately, we managed to convince the powers that be of the problems we were going to face and we were happy to see that our representations were recognized with a specific exemption included in the The exemption will allow taxi drivers to hold and use a device (technically while driving, although the taxi must be stationary) to receive a contactless card or payment.
“There is still a bit of unnecessary confusion surrounding the rest of the changes, not helped by numerous inaccurate media reports. To clarify the changes apply ONLY to drivers actually holding the device (phone). If the phone is in a cradle or cradle, nothing has changed, drivers can still accept app reservations and make and receive hands-free calls.
“The changes to the law closed a loophole, whereby to secure a conviction, the police had to show that the person holding the phone was using it to ‘communicate’. Various high-profile cases where drivers were acquitted because they claimed they were just checking the time, changing a music playlist or accessing certain information stored on the phone convinced the government of the need for changes .
Why is there a contactless payment waiver?
There is an exemption to the new law for drivers making a contactless payment using their mobile phone while stationary to ensure the law keeps pace with technology.
This exemption will cover, for example, places like a drive-through restaurant or a toll road, and will only apply when payment is made with a card reader. It will not allow motorists to make general payments online while driving.
This rule also extends to taking payments using handheld devices, which many taxi drivers do.
What constitutes “USE” of a mobile phone?
According to text of law Iinstrumentsthe meaning of “using” a telephone will cover the following:
illuminate the screen
check the time
verification of notifications
make, receive or reject a phone or internet call
send, receive or upload oral or written content
send, receive or download a photo or video
using a camera, video or sound recording
write any text
access all stored data such as documents, books, audio files, photos, videos, movies, playlists, notes or messages
access an application
access the Internet.