United Kingdom government considering hands-free phone ban

MPs call for tougher penalties on drivers using mobile phones

MPs call for tougher penalties on drivers using mobile phones

While using a handheld phone at the wheel has been banned since 2003, the Commons Transport Select Committee have warned the current laws gives the "misleading impression" that using hands-free 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", said Chair of the Committee, Lilian Greenwood MP.

The MPs called for more severe penalties "commensurate with the risks", as road deaths linked to phone use have risen steadily over the past decade.

The cross-party committee acknowledged there would be some practical challenges in enforcing the law, but it called for the government to launch a public consultation on the matter by the end of the year.

"One moment's distraction from a phone can cause a lifetime of suffering so our advice to drivers is simple - when you're driving, make sure your phone is on silent and placed out of sight and out of reach", he said.

Throughout the United Kingdom in 2017, 773 casualties, including 43 deaths and 135 serious injuries, were caused by collisions in which a driver using a mobile phone was a contributory factor.

"Being at the United Kingdom legal limit for alcohol blood level is essentially the same amount of distraction, if not slightly less, than having a hands-free call", Dr Shaun Helman told the committee, which was also told that drivers using a phone of any sort were four times more likely to be involved in a collision.

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After being given CPR at the scene, emergency services were called and the boy was airlifted to hospital by helicopter. Avery's family are originally from Cork city but now live in the town of Mallow.

"Drivers should also be aware that, even if you are using a hands-free device, if you are not in proper control of the vehicle then the police can take enforcement action".

"The RAC's research suggests that bad habits in relation to illegal phone use while driving are on the rise once more, with a quarter admitting to making or taking a call with a handheld phone and nearly one in seven admitting to taking videos or photos while driving. We need tougher restrictions, better enforcement and more education to make our roads safer for all".

"Offenders also need to know there is a credible risk of being caught, and that there are serious consequences for being caught".

A Department for Transport spokeswoman said: "While mobile phones are a vital part of modern life and business, drivers must always use them safely and responsibly".

In line with this, MPs urged the Government assess and report on the effectiveness of the 2017 increase in penalties for driving while using a mobile phone - including looking at whether the current penalties should be increased. "The law is clear that anyone driving dangerously is committing a criminal offence".

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