RSS welcomes new report into
mobile phone use while driving

16.08.2019

Road Safety Support has welcomed the new report by the Transport Committee which has called for tougher restrictions on driving while using a mobile phone and stricter enforcement of the law. 

In Road Safety: driving while using a mobile phone, the Committee says the evidence is clear: using a mobile phone while driving is dangerous, with potentially catastrophic consequences.

MPs have called on 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, 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.

The report states that the rate of enforcement has plunged by more than two thirds since 2011. Enforcing the law is essential to ensuring that motorists do not illegally use their mobile phone while driving.

While the Committee welcomes the Government’s review of roads policing and traffic enforcement, the report calls on the Government to work with police to boost enforcement and make better use of technology.

The penalties for using a hand-held mobile phone while driving were increased in 2017 but still do not appear to be commensurate with the risk created and should be reviewed and potentially increased so that it is clear there are serious consequences to being caught, says the report.

Andrew Perry, Road Traffic Solicitor, of Road Safety Support said: “Road Safety Support is pleased to note that the Transport Committee is looking again at the dangers of mobile phone use by drivers, following the recent ruling in DPP v Barreto.

“In our view, having to determine which function was in use has rendered the current offence all but unenforceable, without stopping vehicles and interviewing drivers.

“There seems to us to be no logical distinction, based on road safety concerns, between using a hand-held phone as a camera or dictaphone, and using it to send text messages, make calls or access the internet. All are dangerous distractions.

“Going further and including hands-free use within the offence, whilst it can be readily justified on safety grounds, may potentially make the offence even harder to detect and prove, and risks bringing the law further into disrepute, if proof of function remains the test.

“Our members can be assured we will be contacting the committee and offering our assistance.” 

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