Britain should also ban drivers using hands-free cellphones, say politicians

MPs call for tougher penalties on drivers using mobile phones

Hands-free ban: How often mobile phone use caused crashes in Suffolk in 2018/19 | Latest Suffolk and Essex News

Chair of the Committee, Lilian Greenwood MP, said: "Each death and serious injury which results from a driver using a mobile phone is a tragedy that is entirely avoidable".

The transport select committee also stated that the government should consider extending the ban on hand-held devices to hands-free devices.

Since March 2017, motorists caught using a hand-held phone have faced incurring six points on their licence and a £200 fine - up from the previous penalty of three points and £100.

"One moment's distraction from a phone can cause a lifetime of suffering so our advice to drivers is simple - when you're driving, make sure your phone is on silent and placed out of sight and out of reach", he said.

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In 2017 there were 773 casualties, including 43 fatalities and 135 serious injuries, in road traffic collisions where mobile phone use contributed.

The MPs urged the government to consider whether penalties should be increased further "to better reflect the serious risks created by drivers committing this offence".

RAC head of roads policy Nicholas Lyes said: "Before outlawing hands-free phone use at the wheel we believe the Government should focus all its attention on enforcing the current law, which has been in place since 2003 yet is still flouted on a daily basis by thousands of drivers".

Evidence shows that using a hands-free device creates the same risks of crashing, according to the report.

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This can be done through more high-profile policing but could also given an immediate boost by issuing clear guidelines for the use of mobile speed cameras to prosecute any driver they spot with a phone to their ear.

"Offenders also need to know there is a credible risk of being caught, and that there are serious consequences for being caught". Speaking at the time, the then Transport Minister stated that the Department for Transport considered that drivers should not use hands-free phones, but it was not proposed to include these within the scope of the new regulation due to enforcement difficulties.

But rates of enforcement had dropped by more than two-thirds since 2011, the committee said, as it called on the government to work with police to make better use of technology and deter offenders.

"Being distracted by a mobile phone while driving is unsafe and puts people's lives at risk".

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"Being at the United Kingdom legal limit for alcohol blood level is essentially the same amount of distraction, if not slightly less, than having a hands-free call", Dr Shaun Helman told the committee, which was also told that drivers using a phone of any sort were four times more likely to be involved in a collision. "The law is clear that anyone driving dangerously is committing a criminal offence".

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