Ban ‘dangerous’ hands-free calls, urge MPS
ALL phone calls behind the wheel should be banned as using a hands-free set in the car is as dangerous as making a hand-held call, MPS have said.
The Commons transport committee said the Government should consider making hands-free calls a criminal offence, with fines of at least £200 and six penalty points on a licence.
MPS said research showed the “cognitive distraction” from hands-free calling made it four times more likely a driver would crash, the same as with a hand-held call.
Dr Shaun Helman, a chief scientist at the Transport Research Laboratory, said the risks were as great – if not worse – than having drunk enough alcohol to be at the legal limit for driving.
MPS said the number of people killed or seriously hurt in phone-related accidents had risen steadily since 2011 while enforcement fell by more than two-thirds from 160,000 penalties issued in 2011 to 50,000 last year. In 2017, there were 773 casualties on Britain’s roads – including 43 deaths and 135 serious injuries – from crashes where a driver using a mobile phone was a contributory factor.
The RAC claimed a ban would hamper companies that needed to contact delivery drivers or taxis and pointed to difficulties of catching drivers doing it.
However, MPS cited trials of new cameras and technology by at least two police forces – Hampshire and Thames Valley – where roadside sensors can detect a signal if a phone is being used in a car.