Another topic that seems to have cropped up lately and is related to my earlier post on mobile phone use
Can Instructors (or rather supervising Drivers) hold an Ipad (or similar tablet) on the move?
(Why they’d want to I don’t know – personally I don’t use a tablet when training)
Well like most things the answer isn’t entirely straight forward, and like many areas of law, sometimes depends on the exact circumstances.
If it has a SIM card installed the answer is definitely no, as it falls within the scope of the The Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) (Amendment) (No. 4) Regulations 2003 in that it’s
“a device, other than a two-way radio, which performs an interactive communication function by transmitting and receiving data.”
“interactive communication function” includes the following:
(i)sending or receiving oral or written messages; (ii)sending or receiving facsimile documents; (iii)sending or receiving still or moving images; and (iv)providing access to the internet”
The law just like with normal ‘mobile phones’ says
“a mobile telephone or other device is to be treated as hand-held if it is, or must be, held at some point during the course of making or receiving a call or performing any other interactive communication function“
So you could quite happily have it in a car mounting bracket.
If it’s a Wifi only tablet, it’s a slightly grey area in that without a wifi connection it can’t carry out an interactive communication function.
Ultimately that would have to be something decided on by a court. It seems quite a legitimate argument that with wifi disabled or without a wifi signal it’s not capable of receiving or transmitting data and so isn’t covered by the regs.
So that covers the specific offence regarding mobile phone use.
You could in theory, remove the wifi and cellular chips from a tablet if fitted and just use a SDCard or something to transfer files off when you returned to base which would be legal so far as the Construction and Use Regulations are concerned, however there is something else to consider.
Finally, there is also Section 109 of the Con and Use Regulations to consider:
109.—(1) No person shall drive, or cause or permit to be driven, a motor vehicle on a road, if the driver is in such a position as to be able to see, whether directly or by reflection, a television receiving apparatus or other cinematographic apparatus used to display anything other than information—
(a)about the state of the vehicle or its equipment;
(b)about the location of the vehicle and the road on which it is located;
(c)to assist the driver to see the road adjacent to the vehicle; or
(d)to assist the driver to reach his destination.
(2) In this regulation “television receiving apparatus” means any cathode ray tube carried on a vehicle and on which there can be displayed an image derived from a television broadcast, a recording or a camera or computer.
It’s clearly not a cathode ray tube so the section about image derived from a computer doesn’t apply.
But is it a Cinematographic apparatus?
Well ultimately that would be for a court to decide, however as Cinematography is defined as the science or art of motion-picture photography, and a static image of a test report isn’t moving. Not only that, the police already appear to accept that a smart phone in a cradle that can be seen by the driver doesn’t come under this offence, otherwise they’d be issuing thousands, if not millions of fixed penalties everyday. Section 109 was devised to prevent the driver watching a film while driving along. The old fashioned Cathode Ray tube displays were constantly moving, even when displaying a static image as a consequene of how they worked, so were caught within the legislation. LED displays do not move when showing a static image, the pixel is either on or off in simple terms, so again I think it would be stretch to this to apply to them.
Lastly Examiners – Yes they are exempt from any mobile phone offence as in law they aren’t deemed to be supervising drivers when conducting a Driving Test, so for the same reason if there is a S104 offence they are also exempt.
However, they have no exemption from the S109 offence. So whatever technological means used such as privacy screens etc could equally be used by a supervising driver.