Taxi drivers accepting card payments using their phones and other portable devices will be EXEMPTED from the new rules for using cell phones according to the Licensed Taxi Drivers’ Association (LTDA).
Since March 25, motorists are now breaking the law if they use a mobile phone while driving for any purpose, including taking photos or videos, scrolling through playlists or playing games – so that the government close a loophole previously exploited by dangerous drivers to escape conviction.
Anyone found 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 complete driving ban.
However, there are certain exemptions based on mobile payments from vehicles that have been authorized by the government.
LTDA General Secretary Steve McNamara said via TAXI Newspaper“One of our main concerns with the original proposals to change the Mobile Phone Use Act was that members accepting payment via a specific payment device, or their mobile phone, at the roadside would have been fined and given six points just for getting 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 turned off “or similar solutions completely impractical.
“Fortunately, we were able 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 legislation. 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 app
access the Internet.
McNamara added: “Our advice is simple. Never hold the phone while driving – everything you need to do can be done while it’s in the holder.
“There is now an army of vigilantes on our streets desperately trying to get every possible video footage of drivers staring at a phone while standing in traffic. Most of these people are quite sad and filming others has become an unhealthy obsession. Some are cyclists, many aren’t, but with a police department increasingly unable or unwilling to police our streets or tackle any form of crime, getting video over email is a quick and another conviction – all without leaving the security of the police station!
“Don’t be part of their stats, keep your phone hands-free at all times.”