MPs: Hands Free Mobiles Are As Dangerous As Handheld

13 August 2019, 10:22

MPs have called for a public consultation on handheld devices by the end of 2019
MPs have called for a public consultation on handheld devices by the end of 2019. Picture: PA

MPs call for hands free mobiles to be placed under the same restrictions as handheld.

MPs in the Commons transport select committee have said that hands free mobiles can be just as dangerous as handheld, and have called on the government to publish a public consultation on the issue by the end of 2019.

The cross-party committee warned that the current law gives the "misleading impressions" that hands free mobile phones are safe whilst driving.

However, research has shown that they actually create "the same risk of collision". A 2016 study by the University of Sussex found that conversations via hands free devices distracted some drivers from the roads by making them visually imagine what was being discussed.

The laws on using a phone whilst driving were increased in 2017, rising from three points and a £100 fine to six penalty points and a £200 fine. However, the laws surrounding hands free devices were not examined.

The committee admitted that enforcing laws on hands free devices would be difficult, but added that "this does not mean that we should not do it".

Hand held devices have been banned at the wheel since 2003
Hand held devices have been banned at the wheel since 2003. Picture: PA

Labour MP Lilian Greenwood, who chairs the committee, said "offenders need to know that there is a credible risk of being caught, and that there are serious consequences for being caught".

"There is 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."

She continued that driving whilst using a mobile phone should "become as socially unacceptable as drink-driving, and much more effort needs to go into educating drivers about the risks and consequences of using a phone behind the wheel."

The committee said that drivers using mobile phones contributed to hundreds of crashes on Britain's roads in 2017.

Forty-three people were killed and 135 seriously injured by incidents involving a mobile phone being used whilst driving. This number has been steadily rising since 2011, although enforcement had fallen by more than two thirds in the same period.

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