Government urged to update driving laws

The government has been urged to update laws regarding driving while using a mobile phone, after a driver who filmed a collision has his conviction overturned.

The law says that an offence is committed if a driver uses a handheld mobile phone for ‘interactive communication’. The law was set in 2003, before smart phones evolved to be used for much more.

Ramsey Baretto, a 51-year-old builder, had been convicted for using his phone while driving but the High Court overturned the decision.

Lady Justice Thirlwall said, ‘The legislation does not prohibit all use of a mobile phone held while driving’ but also acknowledged that, despite this, drivers who did choose to use a mobile phone behind the wheel could still be prosecuted for more serious offences such as careless or dangerous driving.

GEM road safety officer Neil Worth said, ‘The government’s failure to bring legislation up to date is putting lives at risk. We now have an absurd situation where the wording of the law is insufficient and cumbersome, only stating ‘interactive communication’ as an illegal use of a mobile phone when driving, when we know it is clearly unsafe to use your mobile phone for any purpose when driving.

‘Although penalties have increased, the specific wording of the law governing mobile phones and driving has not changed for 16 years. We are writing to the government urging them to update the legislation at the earliest opportunity. This will ensure it is fit for purpose, and will avoid further compromise to road safety.’