MPs call for tougher penalties on drivers using mobile phones

Ceria Alfonso
Agosto 14, 2019

In a new report, the group of MPs called on the Government to extend the ban on hand-held devices to hands-free ones, stating that "evidence shows that using a hands-free device creates the same risks of crashing".

The use of a hand-held mobile phone is banned, with drivers facing a maximum punishment of six penalty points and a £200 fine.

However, trying to ban hands-free devices opens a can of worms, not least in terms of enforcement.

In 2017, there were 773 casualties, including 43 deaths and 135 serious injuries, in collisions where a driver using a mobile phone was a contributory factor. The number of people killed or seriously injured in such incidents has risen steadily since 2011.

The transport select committee said using any type of mobile phone while driving had potentially catastrophic consequences.

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

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It also says that all phone use while driving, irrespective of whether it involves sending or receiving data, should be stopped.

The government said that, where legal, drivers must always use phones safely. Technology to detect people using phones is now in its infancy, and can't detect whether calls are being made by a passenger or a driver.

The cross-party committee acknowledged 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 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".

Other loopholes should also be closed too, including adding a general "sending or receiving data" clause to outlaw the occasional screen check that's not now covered under today's laws that only technically outlaw using a phone as a phone, plus tougher penalties should be brought in to make charges for those caught "commensurate with the risk created", seeing as the potential for killing someone is there when side-eying your notifications while bored on one of our many national roads' tedium black spots. "The law is clear that anyone driving dangerously is committing a criminal offence".

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