Updated: Apr 3, 2022
Taxi drivers taking card payments using their phones and other handheld devices will be EXEMPT from new mobile phone usage rules according to the Licensed Taxi Drivers’ Association (LTDA).
Since 25 March, motorists are now 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 found 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.
However there are some exemptions based around mobile payments from within vehicles that have been allowed by the Government.
Steve McNamara, LTDA General Secretary, said via TAXI Newspaper: “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 six 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
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.
McNamara added: “Our advice is simple. Never hold the phone whilst driving – anything you need to do can be done whilst it’s in its cradle.
“There are now an army of vigilantes on our streets desperately trying to get any video footage they can of drivers looking at a phone whilst stationary in the traffic. Most of these people are quite sad and filming other people has become an unhealthy obsession. Some are cyclists, many are not, but with a police service increasingly unable or unwilling to actually police our streets or tackle any form of crime, getting a video via email is a quick summons and another conviction – all without leaving the safety of the police station!
“Don’t be one of their statistics, keep your phone hands free at all times.”