Ban ‘dan­ger­ous’ hands-free calls, urge MPS

The Daily Telegraph - - Front page - By Charles Hy­mas Home Af­fairs ed­i­tor

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.

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