By on July 30, 2014

texting behind the wheel of death

UK drivers who find themselves in an accident may also see their cell phones confiscated by the police to determine if they were used prior to said accident.

Visordown reports one Suzette Davenport, chief constable in Gloucestershire in charge of roads policing for the Association of Chief Police Officers, issued the order to check all phones on the scene, no matter the severity of the accident.

Alliance of British Drivers treasurer Hugh Bladon fears the order could be abused:

I am 100 per cent against anyone texting while driving, and those caught deserve everything they get. But I’m worried police could overdo it. Just because someone is involved in a minor shunt, surely it shouldn’t mean they should lose their phone.

The order comes as Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin proclaimed those who are caught using their phones while driving should see six points knocked off of their license, leading to a driving ban if a driver is caught twice in three years; newly minted drivers would lose their license if caught once during the first two years of holding said license.

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42 Comments on “British Police To Confiscate Phones Immediately After Accidents...”

  • avatar

    #1. What if I tell the officer that I have no cell phone?

    #2. What if I was using the hands-free Bluetooth and talking to someone over the car speaker and had an accident?

    #3. What if I texted someone before the accident but not during the accident how would they know the difference if the time gap was less than a minute?

    #4. What if I keep a “throwaway” prepay phone in the car and give that to the police – and hide my smart phone?

    They take points off the license?
    New York State put points on.
    I would rather start with 12 points and lose them as my driving gets bad rather than have points added to the license from zero. It’s more confusing to gain for bad behavior than to lose.

    • 0 avatar
      Athos Nobile

      #5. What if some drivers around have a crash cam?

      #6. What if the officer catches you red handed?

      6 license points and a hefty fine are enough deterrent for me.

    • 0 avatar

      Credit BTSR with a smart idea: keep an old phone you don’t use anymore in the car in case police want to confiscate your phone.

      • 0 avatar


        I would NEVER give the police my phone (or my portable Hard Drives). I would DESTROY it first. Or – just delete the phone data and download my “phone” from iCloud to the new phone.
        [I back up every single morning]

        A new law was passed saying police must obtain a second search warrant to go through your phone.

        I WOULD RATHER PLEAD GUILTY TO MURDER than to let the cops review my internet history.

        • 0 avatar

          Simply ‘deleting’ data doesn’t destroy it. Also, simply overwriting it doesn’t necessarily destroy it, either.

          For typical hard drives, the FBI is able to extract something like seven layers deep, i.e., the last seven times info was saved to that location.

          If you want to make sure no one can ever get your data, you need to truly destroy the medium.

          • 0 avatar

            DESTROYING A PHONE completely destroys it. I recommend BURNING IT. Other ways include CRUSHING IT under the car.

            When it comes down to it – $300 – $600 for a new phone is NOTHING compared to the embarrassment and LULZ of being forced to sit in court and listen to the court laughing at my comments/tweets/etc.

            I imagine someone at NSA following me is laughing hizazz off right now in fact.

            The backup on iTunes/iCloud is still there but eh cops would have to now go through hell to get a warrant for it. I’m not talking about the phone numbers I’ve called or the texts…

            …I’m talking about the pictures, video and search history on the phone.

            No way lil piggy’s getting that.

            In the event of car accident – or federal investigators at my front door, DESTROY HARD DRIVES.

            I have a Neodymium magnet for just the occasion. Backup in a secret location not local.

          • 0 avatar

            I share your hatred of the privacy intrusion and would take the risk of destroying my phone or EDR before willingly trash my constitutional rights. But what would you do if you had a HELLCAT cellphone?

        • 0 avatar

          “A new law was passed saying police must obtain a second search warrant to go through your phone.”


          “WASHINGTON — In a strong defense of digital age privacy, a unanimous Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that police may not generally search the cellphones of people they arrest without first getting search warrants.

          Cellphones are powerful devices unlike anything else police may find on someone they arrest, Chief Justice John Roberts said for the court. Because the phones contain so much information, police must get a warrant before looking through them, Roberts said.

          “Modern cellphones are not just another technological convenience. With all they contain and all they may reveal, they hold for many Americans the privacies of life,” Roberts said.

          The message to police about what they should do before rummaging through a cellphone’s contents following an arrest is simple. “Get a warrant,” Roberts said.
          The chief justice acknowledged that barring searches would affect law enforcement, but said: “Privacy comes at a cost.”

          The court chose not to extend earlier rulings that allow police to empty a suspect’s pockets and examine whatever they find to ensure officers’ safety and prevent the destruction of evidence.

          The Obama administration and the state of California, defending the cellphone searches, said cellphones should have no greater protection from a search than anything else police find.”

          Obama and and his Attorney General Eric Holder, and Democrat Governor Moonbeam failed in this case to “fundamentally change America”, thank goodness.

          • 0 avatar

            ‘cos judges are sooooo concerned about the privacy of the underling classes these days, and would never just issue a warrant without making the cops demonstrate serious need first….

        • 0 avatar

          @ bigtruckwhatever… Unfortunately, you would then be prosecuted for obstruction!

          But, relax! CC Suzette Davenport has since stated that she was quoted out of context and that there are no plans to implement the seizure of any/all phones from drivers involved in anything other than fatal accidents (assuming there were any laws to actually allow this to happen – there aren’t) – basically no change. MW

    • 0 avatar

      What if you think your phone was not a factor in the accident? Ok. If that’s true, you can try to prove that in the court. It’s just a piece of evidence. If you sent a message 30 seconds before the accident, then you will be probably off the hook. If you sent the text message 1 second before the accident, you’d need to do some additional explaining.

  • avatar

    This may sound stupid, but I’d rather have this here than outright bans on using them while driving. The whole point of the bans was to prevent inattentive drivers, but now instead of seeing other drivers tapping away on their phones at steering wheel level, they try to hide it and drive down the road staring into their lap. This seems way worse.

    Treat it like drunk driving. Just let people drive with whatever level of attention they deem necessary and appropriate, then if they are in an accident at all, then they will be presumed to be at fault. Make them suffer hard, legally, for being irresponsible behind the wheel.

    • 0 avatar

      And what if you’re hit by an inattentive driver? You would be subject to the guilty until proven innocent rule, too? I’m all for nailing distracted drivers, but confiscating phones may be a bit much. Perhaps you should have to unlock your phone and show your text list to prove there were no recent sends? That still leaves room for quick deletion, but if I’m not at fault I’m going to take issue with being treated guilty of the bat.

  • avatar
    Athos Nobile

    So we’re starting to get draconian… ummm

    It still won’t deter people from using the phone while driving. Remember… accidents happen to other people that is not careful.

    The fine here is $400+ plus 3 points (double penalty if caught in a school zone)

    I see people texting/BSing in FB/talking everyday. Even at 6:30AM.

  • avatar
    87 Morgan

    I’m with Thirdpedal.

    If this is what it takes to ensure we don’t have a complete nanny state like system that bans all Mobil like usage, then this is presumably the only route. I am fairly certain their goal is check for texting as they have time stamps. The only issue is one could conceivably delete the history prior to turning the phone over.

    My question is how long will they keep it? If the phone will be confiscated for any length of time, then I, unfortunately, agree with BTSR and would purchase a prepaid phone and leave it in the glove box for when/if the need should arise. I make my living on my phone and can’t afford to turn it over for any length of time.

  • avatar

    We already have similar laws in some states, particularly with public employes(like municipal bus , subway, and train operators). At the very least, there needs to be gradations of penalties for mobile use in cars. I would favor losing your license for six months if convicted of using a handheld phone. And texting while driving, I would place the penalty at losing your license for five years minimum. The issue of confiscation of phones in the hands of private citizens is very tricky now because of the recent Supreme Court ruling that police can’t take your phone and look for evidence of possible crimes you commited. I think the exception is, they need to go for a search warrant before looking at the data content inside the phone.

    As for anyone who thinks they’re fully able to drive all the while carrying on a phone conversation, they’re deluded. While you’re behind the wheel and moving, driving is a full-time job. Full-time, as in there’s no time left for arguing with wife or girl friend or boss, or ordering a salad to go. If the phone call is so important and you’re alone, pull over. And if you have a passenger with you, let them take the call or don’t take it at all. Yes, I used to have a longtime neighbor who was killed by being T-boned at an intersection. The car that collided with him never slowed down until the point of impact.

  • avatar

    Actual confiscation of the phone is excessive, but granting the police automatic access to phone metadata from the carrier when a person was involved in an accident would accomplish the same thing.

  • avatar

    Why would they need access to the physical phone? It seems to me that they could get the records from the phone company if they wanted it.

    • 0 avatar

      This makes more sense; snapchat and other apps delete text records instantly so police possession of the phone probably won’t do much good. The mobile carrier WILL have records of use that would be accurate and time stamped.

      Wait for it; your insurance company will require you to release your phone records if there is an accident claim against you. The phone company records will be matched to the time stamp of your car’s on board recording system; if the phone was in use, particularly for any kind of texting, your liability will be affected. It will by force of law, an insurance requirement, or the way to get a rate discount (with rates being double if you don’t comply). But it will happen, and I can’t argue that it is a bad idea.

      • 0 avatar

        I loathe texting and driving – see it every day. But allowing your insurance company to access your phone records is evil. Just like allowing your employer to see your locked Facebook account, or access to your credit score…All of that should be illegal and violators slapped with massive fines and mandatory jail time. How people can be so cavalier with hard earned liberties that they are willing to allow the man and Corporate America to have them – and do so willingly is unfathomable to me.

  • avatar
    Master Baiter

    Police state.

  • avatar

    Prime Clarkson bait.

  • avatar

    It’s all BS! I text all day using my BT headset. I never have to touch my phone or look at it to do so. How would I prove my innocence since there is nothing that indicates it is transcription instead of type except the occasional, humorous, mis-transcription?

  • avatar

    Just because someone receives a text message doesn’t mean they have to read it. So is any text message, incoming or outgoing, immediately prior to the incident incriminating? It’s going to take a few minutes for police to arrive, how would they know exactly when the accident happened?

    • 0 avatar
      formula m

      This doesn’t make sense as you pointed out about receiving text. What if a text is delayed? God fobid a passenger/my girlfriend was using the phone in some capacity at the time of the crash? It just so insurance co.’s can get out of paying claims

    • 0 avatar

      Airbag computer or EDR, depending on the severity.

  • avatar

    Its ironic how Britons are whining against “EU tyranny” while simultaneously being the most repressive country of the developed world.

    More on topic, this law is unbelievably stupid. It is extremely easy to delete call history and messages. It would be far more reliable to check with the mobile carriers.

  • avatar

    Considering majority of cars have a so-called black box, I’m sure investigators will be able to collaborate when accident happened and when mobile was used. I think this law is a great idea for accidents involving damage, injuries and of course, fatalities. Speed isn’t killing much, it’s the damn texting. My wife was seriously hit from behind by a dumb ass texting.

  • avatar

    Great idea!
    Go Brits!
    of course thats the least of Britian`s problems….

  • avatar

    The er truth about mobile phones…

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