MPs call for handsfree mobile phone use to be banned

In a move that could disrupt current parcel delivery operations, UK MPs have called for handsfree phone calls to be banned while driving.

The House of Commons Transport Committee showed that there were 773 killed or seriously injured (KSI) cases due to mobile phone use while driving in 2017. It didn’t explicitly say how many were down to handsfree mobile phone use.

Though heavy fines and points can be given to those holding a handset while driving, there has been a steady increase in mobile phone related KSI cases since 2011. The police it seems have de-prioritised the issue, with the rate of enforcement falling by more than 60% in the same period of time.

The Committee said that handsfree devices have similar risks of causing an accident as handheld use, and have called on the government to ban them.

Committee chair Lilian Greenwood said: “Offenders need to know there is a credible risk of being caught, and that there are serious consequences for being caught.

“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.”

The Road Haulage Association objected strongly.

“We totally agree that drivers should not touch their phone while driving – put it in the glove box and forget it, said chief executive Richard Burnett. “But voice-activated devices, as fitted in the majority of vehicles, make communication safe and viable.

“Ours is an industry that is time critical and the ever increasing levels of congestion on the road network mean that communication is more important than ever. It’s vital that the driver can stay in touch. The vast majority of UK manufacturing plants now rely on just-in-time deliveries. Taking away the ability for drivers to keep in touch could seriously effect of production times.”


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