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Using an i-Pod while Driving

By: Tracy Wilkinson - Updated: 19 Apr 2015 | comments*Discuss
Mobile Phone While Driving Mobile Phone

We all know that driving while using a mobile phone is illegal, but how about using a MP3 player?

As devices such as the iPhone, iPod touch and phones which double up as MP3 players become more and more popular, the line between what you can and can't use while driving a car seems to be blurring and becoming more confusing for motorists to understand.

So What is the Law Regarding Mobiles?

The law states quite clearly that it is illegal to ride a motorbike or drive a car while using a hand held communication device. This relates to something that needs to be held while communication is made, either via voice call or text message. Hands free phones are allowed but are still considered a distraction, and may be included in as evidence of poor driving given against you if you are taken to court.

So I Can Use My iPod Touch or Other MP3 Player Then?

Many people think that because it doesn't make or receive voice calls, they can use their MP3 player. However, if you look more deeply into the legislation you'll find that it is also illegal to use a device which is 'similar' to a mobile phone that can make or receive spoken or text messages, moving or still images, or can provide access to the internet. This is because although these devices can’t make ore receive a voice call, they can access email and instant messaging programs which can prove to be just as distracting – if not more so, than a telephone call.

Driving while Distracted

What you need to remember above all else is that driving while distracted is one of the most dangerous things you can do. Reaction times can be delayed by as much as 50% when the driver's attention is diverted from the road by a phone or handheld device.

If you are involved in a crash and the police find evidence that you were distracted by the use of an electronic device then you leave yourself wide open to the prospect of being prosecuted by the police – and don’t be fooled into thinking it’s a minor offence because at best you’ll find yourself facing a fine and points on your licence. If the police believe that the accident occurred as a result of you failing to keep proper control of the vehicle, or driving without due care and attention then this could land you in Court. Bear in mind that they are just the legal ramifications of driving while distracted and don't include the devastating consequences to your life and mental state that causing serious injury or death to another person because you weren’t concentrating on your driving can have.

iPods, Sat Navs and Dangerous Driving

The police have previously treated driving while distracted as careless driving, meaning that the motorist was guilty of not driving in a “competent and careful" way. This could lead to a maximum fine of £5,000 and penalty points on the offender’s licence. However, following a policy revision in December 2007,will now be treated as dangerous driving - meaning that the driver was “avoidably and dangerously distracted”. If charged and found guilty, drivers face a 2 year prison sentence. Take note that this policy revision does not relate specifically to mobile phones, it also applies to satellite navigation systems, iPods and MP3 players, and can be extended to similar devices that distract motorists from their driving.

What it boils down to is that driving is a complex task which requires your full attention. When you take to the road you are essentially in charge of a dangerous weapon which needs to be respected, and you must treat it as such. If you want to listen to your iPod or MP3 player while you are driving, make yourself a playlist before you set off on your journey, ensuring that you don’t need to handle the player until it’s safe to do so.

Remember that while you might not be changing song on your player, but if a police officer stops you and thinks that you were, you could find yourself banned from driving, and worse still, in prison. So put it somewhere out of reach and keep your eyes on the road. Better still, listen to the radio!

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[Add a Comment]
@AB> No, you could still penalised for using your Ipod while driving...even though it's not a mobile phone.
SaferMotoring - 21-Apr-15 @ 2:25 PM
Am I allowed to use my I pod touch while am I driving ? Note I am using my I pod touch only for songs nothing else so can I get points on my licence or penalty charge. I would be happy If could answer my question. Thanks a lot ABOUT
AB - 19-Apr-15 @ 8:17 AM
It is truly amazing that people think it is ok to drive whilst listening to iPod's or MP3 players.They think their reactions are not slowed by this distraction but it is clearly obvious to everyone around them,that they are.
D.M. - 9-Aug-13 @ 10:14 PM
Driving without all your senses ( including hearing) is dangerous. All distractions in cars should be banned.Even music playing can be so loud that an approaching siren cannot be heard .. They are all an increased risk for other road users. Concentrate on driving people ...
Will C - 12-Jun-11 @ 2:28 PM
Hmmm I suspected as much - espceially when some daft mare nearly ran me and my horse off the road this morning - she had her ipod on :-(
KM - 12-Jun-11 @ 2:18 PM
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