MPs have called on the Government to extend the ban on the use of hand-held mobile phones while driving to include the use of hands-free mobile phones.
In a new report, the House of Commons Transport Committee says “the evidence is clear: using a mobile phone while driving is dangerous, with potentially catastrophic consequences”, irrespective of whether it is hand-held or hands-free.
The Committee was told that the distraction caused by using a mobile phone - hand-held or hands-free - meant a driver was four times more likely to be involved in a collision. That is a similar risk to drink-driving.
The MPs also want “stricter enforcement of the law to prevent the ‘entirely avoidable’ tragedy of deaths and serious injuries from related crashes on the roads”; an overhaul of the current laws on using hand-held mobile devices while driving, to cover use irrespective of whether it involves sending or receiving data, for example filming; and consideration as to whether the current penalties for illegal use of a hand-held mobile phone should be increased.
What’s more, the MPs want the Government to “lead by example” and “encourage behaviour change across the public sector and Government supply chain” so that drivers do not use any mobile phone, or other device, while driving.
Committee chairman Lilian Greenwood said in publishing the report, ‘Road Safety: Driving While Using a Mobile Phone’: “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.”