The dangers of driving with a hand off the steering wheel while chatting on a mobile phone have been apparent for some time now. The penalty for making or receiving calls while driving is six penalty points and a £200 fine, the points usually will have an impact in the cost of both private and motor trade insurance.
The financial penalty and points increased in 2017 from three points and £100 respectively, in that year, mobile phone use contributed to accidents in which 43 people were killed and 135 seriously injured.
Handsfree phone calls are permitted under today’s motoring laws and the motor trade sell numerous kits allowing new and used car drivers to make phone calls legally while driving. But some feel this gives impression it’s entirely safe to use a hands-free phone while driving. However, a report published by the Commons Transport Select Committee revealed that using a phone handsfree carries an identical risk to holding the phone to your ear!
The Transport Select Committee is a cross party committee headed by Labour MP Lilian Greenwood which investigates Department of Transport policies and expenditure. Members of Parliament have joined forces to encourage an extension of the current ban on handheld mobile phone use to cover all forms of mobile phone call.
The Committee recommends that the government produces a public consultation on banning handsfree mobile phone use in cars by the end of the year. Those who oppose this idea point out that it is already difficult to uphold the law regarding handheld mobile phones and suggest making improvements in this area; before extending the law to include hands free usage.
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One of the biggest issues faced by the government is enforcement of the law. Although mobile phone use in cars has increased, the number of convictions has not risen. This is due in part to the decreasing number of police officers available to carry out duties on the roads.
The reduction in cases of drink driving and driving without wearing a seatbelt is also due to a shift in public opinion that makes the practice socially unacceptable. Perhaps the first step in reducing the number of mobile phone calls made while driving is to make it clear to drivers just how dangerous it can be.
Whether it’s a handsfree phone conversation or fiddling with your sat nav, if you are involved in a motoring accident while distracted, it may be ruled that you were not in control of your vehicle. So, it’s important to always keep your eyes and full attention on the road.