Police spark taxi trade confusion: When is it legal to interact with a mobile device whilst driving?

Police have sparked confusion after a London taxi driver was reported for using his mobile phone whilst driving.

According to the Metropolitan Police, the cabbie was stopped by an undercover private hire vehicle on Nine Elms Lane near Vauxhall.

The driver was reported for being “Not in Proper Control” whilst driving.

The offence however sparked confusion as to when you can or can’t interact with a mobile device whilst driving, with many citing the use of private hire booking apps.

One person asked the police: “If my phone is in a cradle and I touch it to accept a job on an app. Am I breaking the law?”

The Met Police Roads and Transport official responded by saying: “If you don’t maintain proper control of your vehicle, you could be committing an offence. It depends purely on the circumstances/situation”

There are over 109,000 private hire drivers licensed by Transport for London (TfL), who rely on booking apps like Uber, Bolt and Kapten.

To accept work they must be able to instantly read and interact with a mobile device.

One taxi driver asked the Met Police: “Can you please explain what proper control of the vehicle is please? TfL have taken away my right to ply for hire and my work comes through a phone.

“How do I accept a job without committing an offence?”

There has been no further comment.

David Kurten, a London Assembly Member and independent mayoral candidate, said: "By responding as they have done, Roads and Transport MPS have left taxi drivers unsure of what constitutes ‘Not In Proper Control’. The Metropolitan Police need to give clear guidance on this issue, so that all drivers know precisely where they stand."

Image credit: MPSRTPC

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