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Hands-free mobile phone use while driving could be banned

New report calls for a ban on hands-free mobile phone use while driving and tougher penalties for those caught using a phone behind the wheel...

Mobile phone use while driving reaches epidemic levels
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Claire Evans
13 Aug 2019 14:40

Using a hands-free mobile phone while driving should be banned, according to a new report published by the government's Transport Select Committee.

The report states: “Research shows that using any mobile phone or other device while driving – whether hand-held or not – is a distraction that's detrimental to a driver’s ability to drive safely”. 

It cites research done by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) that reveals drivers who use a mobile phone are much less aware of what’s happening on the road around them, fail to see road signs and don't maintain proper lane position or steady speed. They're also more likely to tailgate the vehicle in front, react slower, take longer to brake and take longer to stop. Therefore, the group believes that all mobile phone use while driving should be banned. 

Mobile phone at the wheel

Across the UK in 2017, 43 deaths and 135 serious injuries were caused by collisions in which a driver using a mobile phone was a contributory factor. The number of people killed or seriously injured in such incidents has risen steadily since 2011.

In contrast, the number of people prosecuted for using a hand-held mobile since 2011 has dropped by more than two-thirds. To reverse this trend, the group says the Government should work with police to “boost enforcement and make better use of technology”.

Current law makes it an offence to use a phone or other handheld device while driving; since 2017, the penalty for doing so has been a £200 fine and six penalty points. The group believes this should be increased. For new drivers who have been on the road for two years or less, the six points would result in them being banned from driving. 

Committee chair Lilian Greenwood MP said: “If mobile phone use while driving is to become as socially unacceptable as drink-driving, much more effort needs to go into educating drivers about the risks and consequences of using a phone behind the wheel. Offenders also need to know there is a credible risk of being caught, and that there are serious consequences for being caught.

“There is also a misleading impression that hands-free use is safe. The reality is that any use of a phone distracts from a driver’s ability to pay full attention, and the Government should consider extending the ban to reflect this.”

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