kwackers wrote:Yes you could prosecute phone use under careless driving but it opens the door to being contested and some folk simply won't see using their phone as something that is careless.
Explicitly banning mobile phones removes all doubt and makes it impossible to contest.
Except as this case demonstrates, by creating a specific offence for mobile phone use, the legislators have created a situation where technological advances have introduced doubt and made it possible to contest.
As I said above, making it a specific offence was probably done more to raise public awareness and make it clear that it would no longer be tolerated, having failed to clamp down on the problem in the early years when mobile phone ownership was limited. In fact it was probably relatively cheap form of publicity: instead of an expensive publicity campaign and paying for public information adverts on TV and in the press to warn drivers that they would be prosecuted for careless driving if caught using a phone, by passing a specific law instead they received a lot of free publicity for the measure from the media, which was probably also a lot more effective in getting people to stop doing it.
As it is, the law has served its usefulness and probably should be repealed to stop police and the CPS being caught out like in this case, with reliance instead on careless driving. Arguments about mobile phone use not being careless driving would not stand up in court - the Highway Code already states "You MUST NOT use a hand-held mobile phone, or similar device" and that should prevent any such defence arguments.
Attempting to come up with new legislation to address this specific case, i.e. Bonefishblue's argument that a better definition of device can be used, is probably a fool's errand. Technology is evolving so quickly that any attempt to define precisely a particular type of electronic equipment will probably soon be rendered obsolete, e.g. devices which are not hand held but worn, controlled without directly touching the device, or even surgically implanted.