The British government should consider tougher restrictions on driving while using a mobile phone and stricter enforcement of the law to prevent the ‘entirely avoidable’ tragedy of deaths and serious injuries from related crashes on the roads, MPs on the UK Parliament’s transport committee have said in a new report.
MPs called on the government to overhaul current laws on using hand-held mobile devices while driving, to cover use irrespective of whether this involves sending or receiving data. As evidence shows that using a hands-free device creates the same risks of crashing, the Committee also recommends that Government explores options for extending the ban on hand-held devices to hands-free phones.
In 2017, in the UK, 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 has risen steadily since 2011.
However, the rate of enforcement has plunged by more than two thirds since 2011. The report calls on the Government to work with police to boost enforcement and make better use of technology.
Chair of the Committee, Lilian Greenwood MP, said:
“Despite the real risk of catastrophic consequences for themselves, their passengers and other road users, far too many drivers continue to break the law by using hand-held mobile phones.
“There is also a misleading impression that hands-free use is safe. The reality is that any use of a phone distracts from a driver’s ability to pay full attention and the Government should consider extending the ban to reflect this.
A recent survey by Axa, an insurer, in France found that the proportion of drivers that admitted to using a phone while driving had doubled over the last 15 years.
In Luxembourg, the government will increase the penalties for using a phone at the wheel in 2021, while campaigners are also calling for a ban on hands-free calling.