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LTDA: Taxi drivers CAN still accept app bookings via a mobile phone… IF IN A CRADLE

Updated: Apr 12, 2022



Cab drivers CAN still accept taxi app bookings whilst driving safely if the device remains in a cradle, confirms taxi representatives following recent changes to the law around handheld usage.


The Licensed Taxi Drivers’ Association (LTDA) dispelled concerns from London taxi drivers who use mobile phone devices to accept journeys on platforms like FREE NOW and Gett.

From 25 March 2022 motorists are now deemed to be breaking the law if they use a handheld mobile phone behind the wheel for any use, including to take photos or videos, scroll through playlists or play games – as the Government closes a loophole previously exploited by dangerous drivers to escape conviction.

Anyone caught using their hand-held device while driving could face a fine of up to £1,000 as well as 6 points on their licence or a full driving ban.


The LTDA lobbied for some exemptions to the new rules especially around taking payments. Taxi drivers taking card payments using their phones and other handheld devices will be EXEMPT from new mobile phone usage rules.

Steve McNamara, LTDA General Secretary, told members: “One of our major concerns over the initial proposals to change the law on handheld mobile phone usage was that members accepting a payment via a specific payment device, or their mobile phone, at the roadside would have been liable to a fine and 6 points, simply for getting paid.


“During the LTDA’s initial lobbying and engagement as part of the consultation process, our very real concerns were addressed with suggestions that members could ‘find a convenient parking place’ or ‘ensure the cab was turned off’ or similar totally impractical solutions. Fortunately, we were able to convince the powers that be of the problems we would face, and we were pleased to see our representations were recognised with a specific exemption included in the legislation. The exemption will allow cabbies to hold and use a device (technically whilst driving, although the cab must be stationary) to receive a card or contactless payment.


“There is still a bit of unnecessary confusion around the rest of the changes, not helped by lots of inaccurate media reports. To clarify the changes ONLY apply to drivers actually holding the device (phone). If the phone is in a cradle or bracket nothing has changed, drivers can still accept app bookings and make and receive calls hands free.

“The changes to the law have come about to stop a loophole, whereby to obtain a conviction, the police had to show the person holding the phone was using it to ‘communicate’. Various high-profile cases where drivers were acquitted because they claimed they were only checking the time, changing a music playlist, or accessing some information stored on the phone convinced the government of the need for the changes.”


Why is there a contactless payment exemption?


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 road toll, and will only apply when payment is being made with a card reader. It will not allow motorists to make general online payments while driving.


This rule also extends to taking payments using handheld devices which many taxi drivers do.


What constitutes ’USING’ a mobile phone?

According to the text of the Statutory Instruments, the meaning of ‘using’ a phone will to cover the following:

  • illuminating the screen

  • checking the time

  • checking notifications

  • unlocking the device

  • making, receiving, or rejecting a telephone or internet based call

  • sending, receiving or uploading oral or written content

  • sending, receiving or uploading a photo or video

  • utilising camera, video, or sound recording

  • drafting any text

  • accessing any stored data such as documents, books, audio files, photos, videos, films, playlists, notes or messages

  • accessing an app

  • accessing the internet.

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