MPs de­mand prosecutio­n of driv­ers who use kits – be­cause they’re as harm­ful as hold­ing a mo­bile

Daily Mail - - Front Page - By John Stevens Deputy Po­lit­i­cal Editor

DRIV­ERS should be banned from all phone use be­hind the wheel – in­clud­ing hands-free calls, MPs de­clare to­day.

Using tech­nol­ogy such as car speak­er­phones or blue­tooth head­sets can cre­ate the same crash risks as hold­ing a phone, they warn. The Com­mons trans­port com­mit­tee be­lieves that cur­rent laws give the ‘mis­lead­ing im­pres­sion’ that hands­free use is safe.

In­stead, MPs de­mand that min­is­ters look at ex­tend­ing the cur­rent leg­is­la­tion, which only bans use of hand-held phones while driv­ing.

They also want the Government to con­sider in­creas­ing pun­ish­ments for driv­ers using mo­biles, as well as re­cruit­ing more traf­fic of­fi­cers or using road­side cam­eras to catch of­fend­ers. The MPs ac­knowl­edge that there would be prac­ti­cal chal­lenges to crim­i­nal­is­ing hands-free phone use and en­forc­ing the of­fence, but in­sisted ‘this does not mean that we should not do it’. The

rad­i­cal pro­posal, which will now be ex­am­ined by the De­part­ment for Trans­port, is likely to be wel­comed by road safety groups, par­tic­u­larly as fig­ures sug­gest the num­ber of crashes in­volv­ing mo­biles is ris­ing.

How­ever, mo­tor­ing groups have ques­tioned how ban­ning the use of hands-free tech­nol­ogy would af­fect de­liv­ery driv­ers, who of­ten rely on it, as well as taxi driv­ers.

Dur­ing the se­lect com­mit­tee’s in­quiry, Nicholas Lyes, the RAC’s head of roads policy, said: ‘How would companies in­ter­act with their staff, par­tic­u­larly if they were doing de­liv­er­ies, or if they were taxi companies? How would you nec­es­sar­ily en­force it with­out the tech­nol­ogy that could pick up the call that was tak­ing place?’

In 2016, the Daily Mail launched its End The Mo­bile Madness cam­paign fol­low­ing a se­ries of deaths caused by reck­less driv­ers who were talk­ing on the phone or tex­ting.

The cam­paign de­manded stiffer pun­ish­ments for driv­ers caught using a hand-held mo­bile at the wheel.

The fol­low­ing year, in March 2017, min­is­ters dou­bled the pun­ish­ment for using hand-held mo­bile phones while driv­ing from three penalty points to six – and in­creased fines from £100 to £200. How­ever, fig­ures show the num­ber of peo­ple dy­ing in crashes that in­volve a driver using a mo­bile phone has con­tin­ued to rise. In 2017, there were 43 deaths and 135 se­ri­ous in­juries in col­li­sions where phone use was a con­trib­u­tory fac­tor.

In their re­port to­day, the MPs from the trans­port com­mit­tee urge the Government to con­sider whether penalties should be in­creased fur­ther. They also warn that for the law to be ef­fec­tive there must be a cred­i­ble threat of be­ing caught.

The num­ber of driv­ers who re­ceived a Fixed Penalty No­tice, were sent on an aware­ness course or faced court ac­tion fell by more than two-thirds in the six years from 2011. Some ex­perts have blamed this de­cline on cuts to the num­ber of traf­fic of­fi­cers.

Labour MP Lil­ian Greenwood, chair­man of the com­mit­tee, said: ‘If mo­bile phone use while driv­ing is to be­come as so­cially un­ac­cept­able as drink-driv­ing, much more ef­fort needs to go into ed­u­cat­ing driv­ers.

‘Of­fend­ers also need to know there is a cred­i­ble risk of be­ing caught, and that there are se­ri­ous con­se­quences for be­ing caught.There is also a mis­lead­ing im­pres­sion that hands­free use is safe. Any use of a phone dis­tracts from a driver’s abil­ity to pay full at­ten­tion.’

The com­mit­tee heard from ex­perts that a driver using a phone – hand-held or hands­free – is four times more likely to crash.

Dr Gemma Briggs, a se­nior lec­turer in psy­chol­ogy at the Open Univer­sity, told the MPs that even for around five min­utes af­ter a driver has ended a phone con­ver­sa­tion, they are still at a sig­nif­i­cantly in­creased risk of a crash be­cause they re­main dis­tracted.

The Royal So­ci­ety for the Preven­tion of Ac­ci­dents has said driv­ers who use a phone, even via hands-free, fail to see road signs, and are more likely to ‘tailgate’ the ve­hi­cle in front and take longer to brake.

‘A cred­i­ble risk of be­ing caught’

GREEN MP Caro­line Lucas sug­gests the cre­ation of an tem­po­rary all-female unity cab­i­net to stop No deal. women, she in­structs us, are less tribal than men and more ca­pa­ble of es­tab­lish­ing trust.

For­get that she could have pre­vented No deal by vot­ing for Theresa May’s with­drawal agree­ment, the jaw-drop­ping as­pect of this pro­posal is Miss Lucas’s big­oted at­ti­tude to­wards men.

Imag­ine a male MP sug­gest­ing fe­males were tem­per­a­men­tally un­suited to de­cid­ing on vi­tal mat­ters! his po­lit­i­cal life ex­pectancy would be measured in min­utes.

we have news for Miss Lucas: Pos­sess­ing the Y chro­mo­some does not make you less trust­wor­thy or in­ca­pable of com­pro­mise. Some women ac­tu­ally voted for Brexit.

This ab­surd politi­cian has achieved one thing: Uni­fy­ing female col­leagues against her af­ter choos­ing an all-white fan­tasy cab­i­net. She has now been forced to apol­o­gise. You re­ally couldn’t make it up.

Pas­sen­ger seat: Rebecca Evans

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