Concern is mounting among MPs at the number of drivers using a mobile phone and flouting the law.
While it is illegal to use a hand-held mobile phone when driving, use of a hands-free phone is legal. However, the Government says that use of a hands-free phone while driving is equally as dangerous with drivers slower at recognising and reacting to hazards.
Research shows that drivers are four times more likely to be in a crash if they use their phone and that reaction times are twice as slow if they text and drive than if they drink-drive, increasing to three times if using a hand-held phone.
The House of Commons Transport Select Committee, which is holding an inquiry into road safety, has this week embarked on a detailed investigation into road safety and mobile phone use. The Committee is considering: Use of mobile phones by drivers and the risks posed; the adequacy of legislation relating to mobile phone use by motorists; and how enforcement and education around mobile phone use can be improved.
Committee chairman Lilian Greenwood said: “Research shows that using a hand-held mobile phone impairs driving more than being above the drink-drive limit. In 2017 mobile phone use was a contributory factor in collisions leading to 773 casualties, including 43 fatalities. This is clearly unacceptable.”
Drivers caught using a hand-held mobile phone while on the move receive six penalty points on their licence and a £200 fine. Additionally, if having passed the driving test in the past two years a driver will lose their licence. Drivers can also be taken to court where they can be banned from driving or riding and receive a maximum fine of £1,000 (£2,500 if driving a lorry or bus).
Best practice mobile phone use advise for fleet managers and drivers is available here.