Govt urged to consider hands-free phone ban for drivers

MPs have called for tougher restrictions on driving while using a mobile phone and stricter enforcement of the law.

Using a mobile phone while driving is dangerous, with potentially catastrophic consequences, the House of Commons Transport Select Committee said.

Committee members want the Government to overhaul current laws on using hand-held mobile devices while driving, to cover use irrespective of whether this involves sending or receiving data.

And with evidence showing that making or receiving a hands-free call substantially increases the risk of the driver crashing, the Committee recommended that the Government explores options for extending the ban on hand-held devices to hands-free phones.

Under the current law, it’s illegal to hold a phone or sat nav while driving. Instead, you must have hands-free access such as a bluetooth headset or voice command and this should be fully set up before you drive.

The law applies even if you’re stopped at traffic lights or queuing in traffic.

But does the law go far enough?

One expert told the committee that taking a hands-free phone call diminished driving ability as much as drink-driving, the BBC reported.

And Joshua Harris, of road safety charity Brake, said that using a hands-free phone “can impair a driver in the same way as a hand-held device and so it makes sense that the law treats these acts equally”.

The current law “provides a dangerous false impression that it is safe to use a mobile phone with a hands-free kit — it is not,” he added.

“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,” said Committee chair Lilian Greenwood MP.

“Each death and serious injury which results from a driver using a mobile phone is a tragedy that is entirely avoidable. We need tougher restrictions, better enforcement and more education to make our roads safer for all.”

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