Taxi driver Abdul Qayyum has recently appeared at Highbury Corner Magistrates Court charged with causing death by careless driving following an accident in August 2015. His Mercedes cab collided with a motorbike being ridden by world famous ballet dancer Jonathan Ollivier who was en route to an evening performance at Saddlers Wells Theatre when the accident occurred.
Whilst this was a Preliminary Hearing and the prosecution case was not fully opened in court, it appears that part of the evidence is that Mr Qayyum was using a hands-free mobile phone whilst driving his mini-cab along Farringdon Road in London and this was a contributing factor in the accident.
The definition of careless driving is driving a motor vehicle in a manner which in all of the circumstances falls below the standard required of the reasonable, competent and prudent driver. It would appear that part of the prosecution case is that Mr Kayyum`s attention was distracted from his driving because of the telephone conversation he was having, even though the phone he was using was a hands-free set.The case illustrates that using a hands-free mobile phone although not in breach of the law can be taken into account if it contributed to the standard of driving falling below that expected.
Mr Yaqqub elected for the case to be dealt with at the Crown Court so no further details are currently available but the allegation illustrates once again the risks taken by drivers who use even hands-free phones and other devices – and is a reminder of the duty imposed on drivers to ensure that their standard of driving takes into account all of the prevailing circumstances such as the weather, time of day, traffic conditions and particularly the speed of the vehicle – it is often assumed that it is safe to drive up to the legal limit when in fact that is the maximum permitted limit in perfect driving conditions and also it now seems whether it is safe to use even a hands-free mobile phone.
This prosecution comes very shortly after the government’s announcement that they are to increase the penalties for using hand-held devices whilst driving by doubling the number of penalty points from 3 to 6 and the fine from £100 to £200. These changes are due to come into effect in early 2017.