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Ban and huge bill for taxi driver who used mobile phone while driving

Man Talking On Mobile Phone Whilst Driving Car

Many people still do not recognise the danger of using a mobile phone while driving, and for professionals such as taxi drivers, the consequences can be severe.

Despite tougher laws regarding using mobile devices while driving, every day we continue to see drivers looking down at their phones, or holding them as they make a call – both of which are illegal.

Changes to the law

Since March 2022, anyone caught using mobile phones, tablets, smartwatches, PDAs or any other communication devices faces a £200 fine and six points on their licence. At the time, we looked at the impact the changes would have on people’s driving habits, and the steps taxi drivers would need to take to avoid breaking the law and receiving points which could affect their taxi insurance.

The exceptions allow a device held in the hand to be used to call 999 or 112 in an emergency when it is unsafe or impractical to stop; the car is safely parked; a driver is making a contactless payment in a vehicle that is not moving, for example at a drive-through restaurant; or the device is being used  to park the vehicle remotely. Hands-free devices can be used as long as they are not held at any time.

But among the thousands of drivers prosecuted since the laws changed, Buckinghamshire PHV driver Azhar Iqbal, of High Wycombe, made things worse for himself by not reporting his driving conviction to the licensing authority when it happened – and tried to appeal against a watertight case.

The Bucks Herald reports that he was stopped by police in August, 2022, after officers saw him picking up his phone and talking into it.

Denials

Critically, Iqbal did not tell the council about the offence at the time, which breaches the conditions of his private-hire licence, and only revealed the conviction in April, 2023. After a hearing in August, he was banned from working as a taxi driver.

The Herald goes on to report that Iqbal’s problems didn’t end there. After he failed to overturn the conviction in the criminal case, he unsuccessfully appealed against the council’s decision to ban him and a judge ordered him to pay £5,500 to the authority.

This is in addition to the six points issued on his driving licence for the offence and fine and court costs totalling £774.

Like all motorists, taxi drivers must obey the rules of the road, but they also have greater responsibility and regulation to help keep passengers safe.

Using a mobile phone while driving is a huge distraction and is extremely dangerous. The RAC reports that in 2022, 22 people were killed and 674 injured in road traffic collisions “where a driver using a mobile phone was considered to be a contributory factor” and 4,188 injuries were recorded where there was a ‘distraction in vehicle’, where a mobile device could potentially have played a factor in the collision.

This is why the police and licensing authorities take a tough line on those who break the rules.

After Iqbal’s case, Buckinghamshire Councillor Mark Winn told The Herald: “The council expects its licensed drivers to maintain professional standards, comply with the law and protect public safety. Licensed drivers who are found driving while using a phone by hand can expect to have their licence revoked in line with our policy.”

While the dangers of using a mobile phone while driving are still getting through to people, it is hoped cases such as this serve as a reminder and drivers such as Iqbal should think themselves lucky. It has cost him his livelihood, but he was not injured, or worse, and is not sitting in a prison cell after killing or seriously injuring another road user as a result of that call.

Hopefully the message will start getting through.

All information is correct at time of publication. Information provided within this article may have changed over time. No responsibility for its accuracy or correctness is assumed by John Patons Insurance Services or any of its employees.

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