Self Destruction by Selfie

May 02, 2014
A tragic reminder that the law against using mobile phones whilst driving does have a point

A lady in the North Carolina died in an accident seconds after posting a ‘selfie’ whilst at the wheel of her car. It appears her car drifted into the path of a lorry, in all likelihood this was as a result of the distraction of using the phone.

The law makes it an offence to “use a hand held mobile communication device”. My own experience has been that more and more people are using a phone as a means of communicating via social media, such as Facebook, this use is often disguised by the phone being on the drivers lap, rather than held to the ear, open to the view of the police. This type of use, where messages are typed and the screen has to be viewed for prolonged periods has to be more dangerous than a conventional phone call.

On the other hand, however, I have recently successfully defended a case where a driver was alleged to have ‘used a phone’ when he was seen by police to be looking down. In this case the phone was no longer a “hand held mobile communication device” because it was not, and did not have to be held as it was in a cradle. These types of cradle are available for less than £5 and can save you the £100 and three points that come from a fixed penalty ticket. Although I am afraid it might not save you from having an accident if you are distracted. Unfortunately the consequences can go much further than a ticket, in the event of a fatal crash, police accident investigators will seek to establish whether a device was being used and this could lead to a conviction for causing death by dangerous driving… assuming of course the phone user didn’t pay the ultimate price like the lady in North Carolina.    

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