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MPs suggest hands-free phone ban for drivers

Estimated read time: 3 mins

Carrie Tennick, August 13, 2019

A group of MPs has suggested that the government should consider a ban on hands-free phone use for motorists.

The Transport Committee said using a mobile phone or other device while driving impairs a person’s ability to drive safely and makes a road traffic collision more likely. This is true whether a device is hand-held or being used hands-free.

The current situation

According to the committee, 43 people were killed and a further 135 were seriously injured in 2017 in road traffic accidents where a driver using a mobile phone was a contributing factor to the collision.

The law currently allows hands-free access to mobile phones and sat nav devices. This includes:

  • bluetooth headsets
  • voice command
  • dashboard holders or mats
  • windscreen mounts
  • built in sat nav screens

Drivers are unable to use their devices while stopped at traffic lights, queueing in traffic or supervising learner drivers.

The MPs said they welcome the government’s plans to publish an analysis of mobile phone use while driving.

Considering the consequences of the ban

The Transport Committee said that it acknowledged that there would be practical challenges to criminalising hands-free devices and enforcing this offence, “just because something is difficult this does not mean that we should not do it”.

It went on to recommend that the government explores options for extending the ban on using a handheld device while driving to include hands-free devices.

According to the MPs, the government should consider the evidence of the risks involved, the consequences of a ban and the practicalities of enforcing it. They recommended that the government publish a public consultation on these issues by the end of 2019.

The committee also recommended that the government engages with police forces and police and crime commissioners to examine options for improving the enforcement of driving offences. This includes exploring greater use of technology and how increased enforcement can work alongside public awareness campaigns.

Hands-free kits ‘not safe’

Director of campaigns for road safety charity Brake Joshua Harris said: “We welcome the calls from MPs in the Transport Committee to tackle the dangers of phone use behind the wheel. Using a phone whilst driving can impair you as much as driving drunk but stronger laws and tougher enforcement are needed to make it as culturally unacceptable as drink driving.

“The government must clarify the law on using hand-held mobile devices while driving and close loopholes which treat sending or receiving data differently. The current law also provides a dangerous false impression that it is safe to use a mobile phone with a hands-free kit – it is not.”

He went on to say that all phone use while driving is dangerous, adding that the law needs to reflect this by introducing a ban on the use of hands-free devices.

Brake therefore echoed MPs’ call for the government to work with the police to boost enforcement and “ensure there is a true deterrent to the menace of mobile phone use behind the wheel”.

If you’ve suffered a car accident – whether it involved another driver using their phone or not – in the last three years that wasn’t your fault, we could help you get the justice you deserve.

First4Lawyers can help you make a claim for compensation to help you get back to the position you were in before the accident. To find out more, just give us a call, request a call back at the top of your screen or start your claim online.