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Accidents


Answer

The existence of CCTV material should always be considered as a reasonable line of enquiry in a police investigation and investigators will usually view / review any CCTV that they are aware of before making a decision as to whether the footage is relevant to the investigation.

If you are aware of the presence of a CCTV camera at a location where a crime / vehicle collision took place, we would suggest you make the police aware of this when you report an incident / collision.

Please also see the Government website in Related Information regarding requesting CCTV footage of yourself.


Answer

Not all collisions require officers to complete a collision report.

In some instances a collision report will not be released until the police file has been finalised.

If you are a solicitor or an insurance agent, you can apply on behalf of your client for a copy of any existing collision reports the police have.

People can also apply for collision reports or request details of third parties involved in a collision if they are representing themselves in civil proceedings.

Information on how to make a request and details regarding costs can be found on local police force websites. See the link in Related Information for force contact details.


Answer

Unfortunately, a cat does not fall within the remit of the Road Traffic Act and therefore you do not need to report the incident to the police as long as there are no other factors involved, for example:

• Damage to another vehicle
• Injury to another person
• Injury to animals including cattle, mules, sheep, pigs, goat, dogs or horses
• Damage to other property forming parts of land / adjacent to land on road in question

It may be advisable, if possible, to make a few enquiries to find the owner of the cat so that they can be informed of the situation. If you cannot find the owner of the cat, you could take it to the nearest vets as most cats are now microchipped - the vet can scan the cat and contact the owner. Alternatively, you can contact your local council in order for them to clear away the remains.

See the website in Related Information to find your local authority.


Answer

If both parties stopped at the scene and exchanged names and addresses, then there is no legal requirement to report the accident to the police. Road traffic law has been complied with and the police will not take a report.


Answer

You may wish to check out question 894 which explains what a driver must do if they are involved in an accident.

You must comply with these provisions or you may face prosecution. Even if you were not at the wheel of your vehicle at the time, you may still be deemed to be the driver in legal terms. If you are in any doubt about what to do, we would suggest you report the matter to your local police, in accordance with the above provisions and let them make the decision.

If you managed to make a note of the registration of the offending vehicle the police will make enquiries to trace and speak to the driver. The process of tracing and speaking to the driver of the other vehicle can take some time.

If you did not manage to note down the registration of the vehicle then you can still report the accident to the police but unfortunately there are no further enquiries that can be made. However, if the vehicle had an identifying mark on it, a company logo for example, then it may be that the vehicle driver can be traced.


The police will aim to prosecute in most cases where there is sufficient evidence to secure a conviction but each case is judged on its own merits. However, please be aware that some police forces may not take action in relation to very minor damage or accidents on supermarket car parks etc. In such circumstances it will be a matter for your insurance company to resolve the matter.


Answer

Drivers

Question 894 explains what a driver must do if they are involved in an accident.

You must comply with these provisions or you may face prosecution. Even if you were not at the wheel of your vehicle at the time, you may still be deemed to be the driver in legal terms so if you are in any doubt about what to do, we would suggest you report the matter to your local police force.

Other persons

If you have been injured in an accident involving a vehicle, we would suggest you report the matter to your local police force as soon as possible.


Answer

You should contact your insurance company who will make the necessary enquiries in the first instance. Once the enquiries have been completed and they are satisfied that the person does not have insurance, they may advise you to report the matter to the police who may be able to trace the other person.

It would be helpful if you could supply the registration number, make and model of the vehicle and the name and address of the other person if you were given it at the scene. If the person is traced they may be prosecuted for any relevant road traffic offence(s) but this will depend on the circumstances and available evidence.

You can also take out civil proceedings against the other driver in order to try and reclaim the cost of any damage to your car. If you have legal protection as part of your cover your insurance company will be able to advise you on this matter.

Motor Insurance Bureau (MIB)
If you are involved in an accident with a driver who is not insured or who leaves the scene (fails to stop), you may still be able to claim compensation through the MIB. They compensate for death, physical injury or property damage suffered by victims of negligent uninsured or untraced drivers. However, claims must be brought within 3 years otherwise no compensation will generally be payable. You can contact the MIB via their website: Motor Insurance Bureau

 


Answer

You need to take your driving licence, insurance certificate, MOT certificate and any details of the offending vehicle.

Since June 2015, existing paper counterparts to driving licences will no longer have legal status, however drivers do not need to do anything: they just keep their current photocard driving licence. This means that you don't have to take the paper counterpart to the police station.

Note however, that the DVLA have not abolished paper driving licences issued before they introduced the photocard in 1998, and any driver who holds this type of licence should keep it and not destroy it.

Since June 2015, whilst the licence (whether photocard or paper) remains the official document that shows what vehicles a person can drive, the driver record held by the DVLA is the only legal record of the penalty points a driver has. This means that paper driving licences are no longer marked with endorsements.

Drivers can use the link below to find out how many points they have on their licence or when they'll be removed:

GOV.UK - View or share your driving licence information


Answer

You can report an accident at any police station in the country. However, if you are under a legal obligation to report an accident (see Q894), you should go straight to the nearest station and report the matter there.


Answer

This very much depends on each police force. The time period could be from 14 days to six weeks. Each force will have their own policy. When you report the accident you may wish to ask the person taking the report how long they think it will be.


Answer

The police will aim to prosecute in most cases where there is sufficient evidence to secure a conviction. However, each case is judged on its own merits. If the accident is one where there is serious injury/damage, then the police will aim to prosecute in every case. If there is only minor damage to a vehicle, this will more than likely be left to the insurance companies to ascertain liability.

Failing to stop and failing to report an accident are both offences, in which a conviction could lead to imprisonment and/or a substantial fine.


Answer

You should report all accidents to your insurance company even if you were not at fault. The insurance company bases your quote and policy on information provided to them and if that changes it could invalidate your insurance policy, give your insurer the right to cancel your policy or refuse to insure you in future.


Answer

Some animals are not included in the definition of 'animal' given in the legislation, so you are not required to report accidents with them to the police.

A dog (as well as a goat, horse, cattle, ass, mule, sheep and pig) are animals covered within the remit of the legislation, therefore you are required by law to report any accident with these animals to the police.

However, if the animal you have hit is not listed above it may still be worth contacting the police to inform them of the incident. Additionally, the local authority will need to be contacted to remove the remains of the animal. Please see the website in related information to find your local authority..

Important: Badgers are specially protected and it is an offence to possess one, dead or alive, (without the proper authority), so if you kill one, leave it at the roadside. If you are concerned, as stated above, you can voluntarily contact the police.


Answer

It is unlikely that the police officer who first dealt with your collision will have the other driver's details (unless it was a very serious accident). If you did not obtain the details following the collision it is usually best to contact the Criminal Justice Support Department (the name can vary from force to force) of your local police force who will be able to assist. Requests for information can usually be submitted via the local force online system, please see Q727 which provides a list of all of the police forces in England and Wales and their relevant online contact forms.


Answer

Listed below are a few examples of emergencies when it would be necessary to call 999. This is not however an exhaustive list and common sense must prevail.

General circumstances of an incident reported to the police, when there is or likely to be:

    • danger to life
    • use, or immediate threat of use, of violence
    • Serious injury to a person and/or
    • serious damage to property

Criminal conduct

    • the crime is, or likely to be serious and in progress
    • an offender has just been disturbed at the scene
    • an offender has been detained and poses, or is likely to pose, a risk to other people

Road traffic accident

    • involves, or is likely to involve, serious personal injury
    • the road is blocked or there is a dangerous or excessive build up of traffic.

If you don't require an emergency response, you can contact your local police force via 101.

The SMS Emergency (e-SMS) service is provided for people who are deaf, hard of hearing or speech impaired, as an alternative option for contacting an emergency 999 service. You must register your mobile phone on the e-SMS website to be able to use this text service, please see the link in related information for details on how to register.


Answer

There is a Memorandum of Understanding between the National Police Chiefs Council in conjunction with the Office of the Information Commissioner Office and the Association of British Insurers; this permits Insurers and Loss Adjusters to request information from a police force for the purpose of validating a claim.

Requests for the disclosure of information for the purpose of insurance claims are dealt with directly between insurers and the Police. Claimants should contact their insurers for further details.


Answer

The purpose of a notice of intended prosecution (NIP) is to inform a potential defendant that they may be prosecuted for an offence they have committed, whilst the incident is still fresh in their memory.

When you receive a NIP it doesn't automatically mean that you are going to face prosecution, it is a warning that you may face prosecution.

The NIP must be served on the driver or registered keeper within 14 days of the offence otherwise the offence cannot proceed at court. If the details of the driver are not known, then it is sent to the registered keeper. In either case, so long as it arrives at the relevant address within the time limit the notice is valid.

If the registered keeper has changed address/not informed DVLA etc., as long as the NIP arrived at the address on record for the registered keeper within 14 days, it is still valid. The registered keeper then has an obligation to identify the driver.

The driver may then receive further paperwork in due course, but that is not to be confused with the document that is legally required to be sent within 14 days.

NIPs can also be issued verbally to the driver at the time of the offence or alternatively, you could receive a court summons through the post for the alleged offence within 14 days.

Small mistakes on the notice do not render it ineffective unless it would mislead the potential defendant.

A Notice shall be deemed to have been served on a person if it was posted to them at their last known address, notwithstanding that the notice was returned as undelivered or was for any other reason not received by them. A posted NIP is deemed to be served until the contrary is shown.


Answer

It depends upon the type of incident you are reporting. This area of law is very complex, so the following is a basic guide only (as there are exceptions).

Road Traffic Accidents:

  • Reportable road traffic accidents (see questions in related topics for more details) must be reported as soon as is reasonably practicable and in any case, within twenty-four hours.
  • Minor road traffic incidents e.g. failing to wear a seatbelt, have a time limit on prosecution of 6 months.
  • Serious road traffic incidents (e.g. dangerous driving) have no such time limit for prosecution.

Crime:

  • Most crimes do not have a time limit for reporting them.
  • The crimes that do have time limits are 'summary only' which means that they can only be tried at a Magistrates Court and are relatively minor offences; they must be prosecuted within 6 months e.g. common assault, harassment and taken without owners consent (TWOC).
Do bear in mind that the more time there is between the incident happening and reporting it to the police, the harder it will be for the police to gather the evidence.


Answer

Depending on the offence, penalty points and disqualifications are valid for either 3 or 10 years, but they remain on your record for an additional year. Please see the link in Related Information which tells you how long points will remain on your driving record.


If you apply for a driving licence at the age of 17, any points you received as a 15-year-old will be shown on your driving record - you can view your driving record via the link in Related Information.


If you acquire further points on your licence so that the number reaches 6 or more within 2 years of passing your test your licence will be revoked and if you obtain 12 points with a 3 year period, you will be disqualified.


Answer

If you're the driver of a mechanically propelled vehicle (car, motorcycle, bus, lorry etc.) that's involved in an accident on a road or public place and:

  • a person, other than yourself, is injured
  • damage is caused to another vehicle or to someone else's property - including street lamps, signs, bollards etc.
  • an animal, other than one in your own vehicle/trailer, has been killed or injured (animal means any horse, cattle, ass, mule, sheep, pig, goat or dog)

You must stop and provide your details and in some cases produce your insurance certificate. If you don't you must report the matter to the police - it's against the law not to. For a fuller explanation of accident law see Q894.

Some car parks can be classed as public places e.g. supermarket car parks. However, car parks belonging to private organisations where members of the public would not ordinarily be permitted may not be classed as public places and accidents occurring there should be reported directly to your insurance company. If in doubt it is better to report the matter to the police and be guided by their advice.


Answer

This information has been reproduced with the kind permission of the Motor Insurers Bureau (MIB).

  • If the insurer's name is known check the MIB website for any Green Card Agents who will handle the claim on behalf of the foreign insurer.
  • If the insurer's name is not known, contact the MIB's Green card department on 01908 830001.
  • if the accident involves a foreign lorry, take a note of the registration plate from the front of the lorry (there may be a different number on the trailer) as well as the policy and Green card numbers.
  • For security reasons, we can't reproduce a Green card here, however, the numbered boxes relate as follows:
    3- validity dates
    4 - Green card number
    5 - Registration or chassis number
    6 - Category and make of vehicle
    7 - Policy holder and user name and address
    8 - Insurer's name

For more information see website in related information.


Answer

Providing there are no children in the car (see Q921), it is not an offence in itself to smoke, eat or change the CD or radio whilst driving but you could commit the offence of driving without due care and attention or not being in proper control of the vehicle. These are some activities that distract the driver's attention from the road. Others include reading maps, talking on a hands-free mobile phone and having very loud music in the car.

Distracted drivers are more likely to have/cause accidents.

Please see Related Information for further information on smoking in cars if children are present.


Answer

Information on advanced driving and the benefits it can bring are available from the Royal Society of the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) and from the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM), see websites in related information.

Advanced driving gives improved driving skills and makes safer drivers. Some insurance companies offer discounts to advanced drivers.


Answer

If you acquire 6 or more penalty points within 2 years of passing your first driving test you will automatically have your licence revoked. To get it back you must apply and pay for a new provisional licence, drive as a learner (supervision, 'L' plates etc.) and pass both theory (including hazard perception) and practical tests again.

You can acquire penalty points on your provisional licence before you pass your test but if you then receive more points after passing your test, taking the total to 6 or more, your licence will be revoked. Having your licence revoked when you have acquired 6 or more penalty points does not 'wipe the slate clean', any live penalty points will still be shown on your licence when you get it back.

Revocation only applies where the offence that causes the points to number 6 or more is committed during the probationary period (2 years from passing your test). This means that if you obtain 6 points or more points before you have taken your test you can still pass your test and obtain your licence, but if you obtain any more points within 2 years of passing your test, your licence will be revoked.

Note: If the points on your licence number 12 or more within a three year period, you will be liable to be disqualified under the 'totting up' provisions – usually for at least 6 months.

Note: The penalty for using a mobile phone whilst driving is 6 penalty points and a £200 fine. For newly qualified drivers this could result in your licence being revoked for a single offence.


Answer

Cyclists are required by law to act responsibly. It is a criminal offence to ride a cycle either dangerously or without due care and attention whilst on a road. It is also a criminal offence to ride a cycle in a public place or road whilst unfit through drink or drugs.

If you witness anyone you believe to be riding a cycle in contravention of these laws then you can report the matter to your local Police.

If you have been injured due to the misconduct of a cyclist then they may be guilty of a separate offence of causing injury by 'wanton or furious driving'.

Pedestrians should also be aware that riding a cycle on a footpath or pavement is, in itself, an offence and could be evidence that the cyclist was riding in a dangerous manner.

Advice on safe cycling and the relevant provisions of the Highway Code are available via the link in 'Related Information'.


Answer

If, as a driver, your vehicle is involved in a road-traffic accident/collision on a road or public place and one or more of the following occurs:

  • a person, other than yourself, is injured,
  • damage is caused to another vehicle or to someone else's property - including street lamps, signs, bollards etc.
  • an animal, other than one in your own vehicle/trailer, has been killed or injured (animal means any horse, cattle, ass, mule, sheep, pig, goat or dog).

YOU MUST:

  • stop (whether it's your fault or not), AND
  • give your name and address, the vehicle owner's name and address and your vehicle's registration number to anyone with reasonable grounds for asking for those details.

If you don't give your name and address, you must report the accident at a police station or to a police constable as soon as you can, and in any case within 24 hours (this does not mean you have 24 hours in which to report the accident). If you fail to stop, fail to give your and the owner's name and address or the vehicle's details or fail to report the accident, you commit an offence/s.

 

If another person is injured, in addition to the above, YOU MUST:

  • Produce your certificate of insurance to a constable or anyone else having reasonable grounds to see it.

If you don't, you must report the accident at a police station or to a constable as soon as you can and in any case within 24 hours (this does not mean you have 24 hours in which to report the accident) and produce your certificate of insurance. However, if you don't have your certificate with you when you report the accident to the police, you can take it, within seven days of the accident, to the police station you nominate when you report the incident.

 

Points to note:

  • Reporting – if you are under a legal responsibility to tell the police about an accident you cannot do this by telephone, you can only report an accident at a police station or to a police officer in person.
  • Driving – you're legally obliged to comply with these requirements not only when you are directly involved in an accident, but also if your vehicle's 'presence' was a factor in an accident. You don't even have to have been driving the vehicle at the time of the accident e.g. you park your car and run to post a letter, your car runs downhill and collides with another.
  • The above provisions make no reference to blame. Therefore, a driver must comply with them even if they are not at fault for the accident.


Answer

You will need to contact the relevant police force via the contact details shown here - they will be able to tell you what the procedures are in their force. Alternatively, most police forces have such information on their website - just type 'accident reports' into the search facility. See websites in related information.


Answer

You can commit the offence of dangerous driving in one of two ways, either because:

  • the standard of your driving is very poor, or
  • your vehicle is in very bad condition

In relation to the standard of your driving, section 2A of the Road Traffic Act 1988 provides that you will be regarded as driving dangerously if:

  • the way you drive falls far below what would be expected of a competent and careful driver, and
  • it would be obvious to a competent and careful driver that driving in that way would be dangerous.

It will be a matter for a court to decide whether your driving has fallen 'far below' the required standard but 'dangerous' refers to a danger of personal injury or of serious damage to property.

In relation to the condition of your vehicle, section 2A of the Road Traffic Act 1988 provides that a person is to be regarded as driving dangerously if it would be obvious to a competent and careful driver that driving the vehicle in its current state would be dangerous. The defects/condition must be able to be seen at first glance, otherwise they cannot be 'obvious'. However, if you drive knowing your vehicle has a serious defect, even if it is hidden, you can still commit the offence of dangerous driving.


Answer

Special reasons are unusual circumstances existing at the time of an offence that mean that even if a driver commits an offence for which they must be disqualified (banned) from driving, they will receive a shorter ban or won't be banned at all.


Answer

If a person drives a mechanically propelled vehicle on a road or other public place without due care and attention, or without reasonable consideration for other persons using the road or place, he is guilty of an offence. You can report this and any other nuisance motor vehicles directly to your local police force via their 101 number.

You commit the offence of careless driving if your driving falls below the standard of a competent and careful driver. Whether your driving falls below this standard is a matter for a court to decide. In order to commit the offence of inconsiderate driving it has to be shown that your driving has inconvenienced another person. Neither offence makes any allowance for your level of driving experience – a learner driver can be convicted of either offence.

You can commit the offences of careless or inconsiderate driving in/on any mechanically propelled vehicle i.e. any vehicle that's powered by an engine. This means that as well as cars, lorries and motorcycles, it also includes off-road motorcycles, pit-bikes, mini-motos, tractors, plant equipment, Segways (gyroscopic scooters), electric scooters and go-carts etc. The offence also applies to both roads and public places e.g. public car parks and pedestrian precincts etc.


Answer

In order to protect children and young people from the dangers of second hand smoke, it's illegal to smoke in a car or other vehicle if anyone under the age of 18 is present. The legislation applies to both England and Wales.

If someone is caught smoking in a vehicle with children/young people under the age of 18, both the driver and the smoker could be fined. The fixed penalty notice fine for this offence is £50 (for person who smokes and for driver) - someone who committed both offences could get two fines. The law does not apply if the driver is 17 and is on their own in the vehicle. However, if a 17 year old were learning to drive and their supervisor or anyone else in the car was smoking, the smoker would commit an offence.

The legislation applies to all private vehicles that are wholly or partly enclosed by a roof even if the windows or sunroof are open, the air conditioning is on or the person/s who are smoking are sat in the open doorway of the vehicle. However, the law won't apply to a convertible car when the roof is fully down or work vehicles/public transport (it is already against the law to smoke in such vehicles).

The legislation doesn't apply to motorhomes or campervans (motor caravans) and caravans when they are being used as a home. The reason for this is that the legislation is intended to apply to vehicles not homes. The legislation doesn't apply to e-cigarettes (vaping).

If you have a vehicle that allows you to remove roof panels but does not allow you to remove supporting sections, it will ultimately be a matter for a court to decide whether the remaining sections constitute a roof for the purposes of the legislation.


Answer

There is a substantial body of research showing that using a mobile phone whilst driving, even legally via hands-free, is a considerable distraction and greatly increases the risk of a driver being involved in an accident. This is because of the mental distraction and the driver having to divide their attention between using their phone/device and driving. Therefore, we would suggest that you don't use a mobile phone/device, even hands-free, whilst driving.
 
Standard of driving
It's important to realise that even if you aren't contravening the mobile phone/other hand-held device legislation explained below, if operating any device whether it's hand-held or not, affects your driving, you can still commit offences such as not being in proper control of your vehicle, careless or even dangerous driving. This also applies to operating any device in your vehicle e.g. car radio, sat-nav etc. Note that if you were involved in an accident and your telephone records showed that you were using your mobile at the time of the incident, even via voice activation, it could have serious legal implications.

Mobile phone/other hand-held devices – legal requirements
The law states that no person shall drive, or cause or permit to be driven, a motor vehicle on a road if the driver is using:
 
  • a hand-held mobile telephone, or
  • a hand-held device other than a two-way radio, which is capable of transmitting and receiving data, whether or not those capabilities are enabled.

Additionally, no person shall supervise a holder of a provisional licence if the person supervising is using a hand-held mobile telephone or a hand-held device as above at a time when the provisional licence holder is driving a motor vehicle on a road.
 
A mobile telephone or other device is to be treated as hand-held if it is, or must be, held at some point while being used.
 
Using includes the following –
 
  • Illuminating the screen
  • Checking the time
  • Checking notifications
  • Unlocking the device
  • Making, receiving, or rejecting a telephone or internet-based call
  • Sending, receiving or uploading oral or written content
  • Sending, receiving or uploading a photo or video
  • Utilising camera, video, or sound recording functionality
  • Drafting any text
  • Accessing any stored data such as documents, books, audio files, photos, videos, films, playlists, notes or messages
  • Accessing an application
  • Accessing the internet.

What does this mean?
The offence of using a hand-held mobile phone or similar device is triggered when a driver holds a mobile phone or similar device and uses it, regardless of whether that use involves interactive communication. This covers any device which is capable of interactive communication even if that functionality is not enabled at the time, for example, because mobile data is switched off, or the device is in flight mode.

Provided that a phone/device can be operated without holding it, then hands-free equipment is not prohibited by the above requirements.

Pushing buttons/touching a phone while it's in a cradle is not covered by the above offence, provided you don't hold the phone. Therefore, in our opinion, if the device can allow for hands-free calls, such as when using Apple's Siri voice command system or using a car's compatible systems, it would be legal but inadvisable to use whilst driving. However, we would emphasise that ultimately this would be a matter for a court to decide.

The use of a mobile phone or similar device for texting/internet access etc., while driving is also prohibited if the phone/device has to be held in order to operate it.

What is the penalty for using a mobile phone/device?
Using a mobile phone/device in breach of the above requirements carries 6 points and a £200 fine.
 
Can I use my phone as a sat nav?
The use of a phone as a sat nav is lawful providing you don't have to hold it at any time. Please see the section on 'Mobile phone/other hand-held devices – legal requirements' for information on touching the screen etc.

Mobile phone - use when parked
Whether someone is driving in terms of the law is a question of fact and degree and is ultimately a matter for a court to decide. If you are sitting in the driving seat of a vehicle on a road with the engine running you will usually be deemed to be driving for the purposes of this offence. There have even been cases where people have been found to be driving when they have let the vehicle roll forward without the engine running. In order to ensure you don't break the law in relation to using a phone/device when parked in a safe and lawful place, we would suggest the following:
 
  • Use a hands-free kit
  • Use the phone/device outside the vehicle
  • Ideally, don't use the phone/device at all

Mobile phone - positioning
The law does not state where your phone cradle must be positioned providing it doesn't obscure your view from the vehicle – if it does you could commit an offence.

Must my phone be in a cradle?
If at any point you have to hold your phone/device to use it whilst driving, you will commit an offence. Therefore, it is best to secure it in a suitable cradle.

What about queuing in traffic?
It's illegal to use a hand-held phone or similar device if you're stopped in queuing traffic e.g. at traffic lights, hold-ups etc. Whilst there may be situations when drivers are held for hours in a queue of traffic e.g. following a serious accident, the legislation doesn't specifically provide an exemption in such circumstances. Therefore, to ensure you don't commit an offence in relation to using a mobile phone in such a situation, we would suggest using a hands-free kit.

Are there any exemptions?
Yes, there are three exemptions to the above provisions if someone is using the mobile telephone or other device to:
 
  • Call the police, fire, ambulance or other emergency service on 112 or 999, in response to a genuine emergency, and it is unsafe or impracticable for them to cease driving in order to make the call (or if applicable for the provisional licence holder to cease driving while the call was being made).
  • Perform a remote controlled parking function of the motor vehicle, and that mobile telephone or other device only enables the motor vehicle to move where:
    • there is continuous activation of the remote control application of the telephone or device by the driver,
    • the signal between the motor vehicle and the telephone or the motor vehicle and the device, as appropriate, is maintained, and
    • the distance between the motor vehicle and the telephone or the motor vehicle and the device, as appropriate, is not more than 6 metres.
  • Make a contactless payment for goods/services which are received at the same time as, or after, the contactless payment is made and the motor vehicle is stationary.

Wearable technology
It is not yet clear whether using a smartwatch strapped to your wrist would constitute a hand-held device for the purposes of the mobile phone legislation – this matter would have to be decided by the courts. However, if operating such a device affects your driving, you can still commit offences such as not being in proper control of your vehicle, careless or even dangerous driving – see the section on 'Standard of driving' for further information. Additionally, the legislation on viewing a screen may also apply – see the sections on 'Viewing a screen'. and 'Mobile phone/other hand-held devices – legal requirements' for information in relation to the use of voice command systems.

Viewing a screen
Legislation states that 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, directly or by reflection, a television screen or similar apparatus except one showing information:
 
  • about the state of the vehicle or its equipment e.g. screen warning lights;
  • about the location of the vehicle and the road on which it is located e.g. some GPS tracking devices;
  •  to assist the driver to see the road adjacent to the vehicle e.g. reversing cameras; or
  • to assist the driver to reach their destination e.g. sat navs.

In-ear earphones
There is no specific legislation that applies to using head/earphones whilst riding/driving. However, when driving it is best not to do anything that restricts your senses or concentration, as this may impede your awareness of or reaction to a situation. If this occurred, depending on the circumstances, you could be prosecuted for driving without due care and attention but this would ultimately be a matter for a court to decide.

Cyclists
The mobile phone legislation only applies to motor vehicles. However, if a cyclist was using a mobile phone, they could commit offences such as careless or dangerous cycling.

Two-way radios
The use of 2-way radio equipment (unless the device can also be used as a phone) when driving is not included in the mobile phone legislation but note that if a device is a dual or multi-purpose device that can be used both as a mobile phone and a 2-way radio, the use of the device while driving or supervising a provisional licence holder is prohibited. Use is prohibited whether the device is being used as a 2-way radio or as a mobile phone. However, whilst the law on mobile phones doesn't apply to a two-way radio, if operating such a radio affects your driving, you can still commit offences such as not being in proper control of your vehicle, careless or even dangerous driving – see the section on 'Standard of driving' for further information.

Using a mobile phone/smartwatch to scan
Please see the ‘Are there any exemptions’ section above.
 


Answer

In a 'cash for crash' incident, fraudsters deliberately stage or cause a road traffic collision 'accident' for the purpose of financial gain. There are basically three types of 'cash for crash' scams:

  • Staged accidents
  • Ghost accidents
  • Induced accidents

Staged accident
In this type of accident two fraudsters deliberately stage an accident and crash into one another. Alternatively, they may just damage the vehicles with sledgehammers etc., make up an accident scenario and then claim on the insurance.

Ghost accident
In this scam there is no actual accident or damage to vehicles, the accident is purely fabricated on paper.

Induced accident
In an induced incident, the criminals will target an innocent motorist to make them out to be the 'at fault' driver in an accident. The induced incident can take many forms, some of the most common scenarios are explained below:

  • The driver of the vehicle in front suddenly slams their brakes on and you run into the back of it – the driver then insists it's your fault. Some criminals will intentionally disconnect their brake lights so you don't know they're slowing down until it's too late.
  • A driver may flash their headlights for you to pull out of a junction or wave you out of a junction, they then fail to let you out and you collide with them – they deny flashing their lights or inviting you to pull out.
  • A car is stationary in the middle of a quiet road, often at night, you drive up to it wondering what's going on and stop, the driver of the vehicle then suddenly reverses into you and maintains you drove into them.
  • A driver overtakes you and then suddenly swerves in front of you and brakes hard – you collide with the rear of their vehicle and they blame you.

The criminals who set up this type of scam may also be operating in a gang and have witnesses strategically placed on foot or even following in other vehicles, who will stop and say the other driver version of events is correct.

The criminals who cause these incidents usually target their victims and look for people who will be insured and who they perceive won't be too difficult for them to deal with e.g. the elderly, lone females or mums with children. Such incidents are very dangerous because a collision between two vehicles can have serious unforeseen consequences.

Spot the warning signs

  • Be suspicious if a driver appears very calm after a collision and has all their details already written down on a piece of paper.
  • Be suspicious of exaggerated claims e.g. after a very minor collision you receive information from your insurer in relation to high repair costs for damage to the other vehicle when only minor damage was caused, cost of hire cars/vehicle recovery when the other driver left the scene in their vehicle, injuries such a whiplash from a very minor impact, injury to passengers when the other driver was alone etc.
  • Be aware of passengers or the driver in a vehicle you are following looking backwards/paying a lot of attention to your vehicle – they may be weighing up the best time to slam the brakes on and cause an accident.
  • Beware of drivers driving extremely slowly or driving slowly and then suddenly speeding up.
  • Don't assume that when a driver flashes their headlights, invites you to proceed or puts their indicator on that it's safe. Use your judgement and wait to make sure it's safe before you go.

What can you do

  • Be vigilant – it's best to avoid such situations altogether.
  • Don't follow vehicles too closely – leave plenty of room so that in the event of something unexpected happening you can stop safely.
  • Try to think ahead and anticipate the actions of other drivers.
  • Even if you suspect the accident you've been involved in is a scam, you must comply with your legal responsibilities – please see the following link: What are the driver's responsibilities when involved in an accident?
  • Be suspicious and don't get too close to vehicles that have stopped in the road for no reason.
  • At the scene of an accident never admit liability for anything.
  • Get the details of independent witnesses before they have a chance to leave the scene but be aware they may be part of a gang that has set up the scam.
  • Insist on calling the police – 101 for the non-emergency number, 999 if an emergency response is required.
  • If you suspect a scam it's usually best not to challenge the driver of the other vehicle about it there and then.
  • Obtain as much information as you can about the vehicle, passengers (if present), damage to vehicle, location, time, date, weather conditions, witnesses etc.
  • If it is safe to do so, take photographs.
  • Never agree to settle the matter informally.
  • Tell you insurer what has occurred as soon as you can.
  • If you suspect a scam, as well as contacting the police and your insurer, notify the Insurance Fraud Bureau via the link below or by calling the Cheatline on 0800 422 0421

Offences
The offences of fraud and conspiracy to commit fraud carry a 10-year prison sentence.

Contact your local police force

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