When is a mobile phone not a mobile phone? When it is a Dictaphone?
This joke may not be as funny as Jimmy Carr’s stand-up routine, but it allowed the comedian to escape a fine when he appeared before Harrow Magistrates’ Court after police spotted him using a mobile phone whilst driving.
The successful argument was based on the fact that he was not using his mobile as a phone but as a dictating machine. The legislation which bans the use of a mobile phone whilst driving is phrased in such a way that if the use is not for the purpose of communication, it does not apply.
In the absence of evidence that Mr Carr was not in full control of his vehicle, the charge was dismissed.
The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents has published a review of the use of mobile phones when driving, which concludes that the simple answer to the question ‘Does using a mobile phone while driving impair driving performance?’ is ‘yes’.
The important point here is that whilst the penalty for driving while using a mobile phone may be relatively small, the impact on driving performance is clear and a driver who is found to be using a mobile phone when they are involved in an accident faces an uphill struggle in court.
A policeman who knocked down and killed a young girl whilst he was using his mobile phone was recently jailed for three years. Driving whilst using a mobile phone is against the law and it is not advisable to rely on such ‘loopholes’ to avoid penalty points and a fine.