Government should ban hands-free phones, say MPs

Government should ban hands-free phones, say MPs
The government is facing growing calls from MPs and motoring groups to ban drivers from using hands-free devices behind the wheel.

Debate on the use of these devices has been fuelled by a recently published Commons Transport Committee (CTC) report stating hands-free devices carry the same risk of collision as a hand-held phone.  

UK law currently permits the use of hands-free phones while driving, however the CTC suggest this law is “misleading” drivers into believing hands-free is safe to use.

But Nicholas Lyes, head of roads policy at the RAC, has urged the government to focus on enforcing the current law before turning their attentions to hands-free devices.

Figures from the Department for Transport (DfT) show 43 people were killed and 135 left seriously injured in 2017, as a result of using a mobile phone while driving.

Concerns about the use of mobile phones on the road led to an increase in penalties in March 2017, with drivers caught using a hand-held phone now facing penalties of £200 and six penalty points.

However, questions are now being raised about the safety of using hands-free to communicate on the roads, with Labour MP Lilian Greenwood saying that using any type of phone can be distracting.

She said: “Despite the real risk of catastrophic consequences for themselves, their passengers and other road users, far too many drivers continue to break the law by using hand-held mobile phones.

“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.”

Mobile phone use: Can you legally answer the phone?

The RAC’s Mr Lyes repeated concerns about the continuing dangers of drivers using hand-held phones behind the wheel – despite the introduction of harsher penalties.

He said: “Before outlawing hands-free phone use at the wheel we believe the Government should focus all its attention on enforcing the current law.”

“The falling number of roads police officers has clearly not helped the enforcement situation. This is why we feel the time has come to look at new technology capable of photographing offenders using their hand-held phones while driving.

“If hands-free use were to be banned then it could arguably be even harder to catch drivers in the act than it is now.”

Similarly, other politicians have voiced their concerns about the calls to ban hands-free devices, with Conservative MP Michael Fabricant likening use to speaking to a passenger:

 

 

Much like Mr Fabricant, we'd like to know what you think about this issue. Please leave a comment below.

Copyright Press Association 2019. Motoring News articles do not reflect the RAC's views unless clearly stated.

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