Renewed calls for hands-free mobiles to be banned

10.56 | 4 November 2019 | | 6 comments

The Government has been criticised for giving a false impression that it is safe to use a hands-free mobile phone while driving.

On 1 November, the Government announced it would ‘tighten up’ mobile phone laws – closing a legal loophole which has allowed drivers who use mobile phones to film or take photographs to escape prosecution.

The announcement was made in response to a Transport Committee report, published in August, which also recommended the Government explores options for extending the existing ban on hand-held devices to hands-free phones.

While the Government acknowledged the risks associated with the use of hands-free mobile phones while driving, it confirmed there are no plans to introduce a ban.

This has brought about criticism from road safety stakeholders, including the road safety charity Brake, who says the current laws provide a ‘dangerous false impression’ about hands-free mobile phones.

Joshua Harris, director of campaigns for Brake, said: “The Committee’s report was clear on the dangers of hands-free devices and it is troubling that they will not be banned despite the Government’s acknowledgement of the risk. 

“The current law provides a dangerous false impression that it is safe to use a mobile phone with a hands-free kit when driving – it is not. 

“All phone use behind the wheel is dangerous and to get this message across to drivers the law must reflect this.”

IAM RoadSmart has also expressed disappointment at the lack of action.

Neil Greig, IAM RoadSmart director of policy and research, said: “IAM RoadSmart is disappointed the new measures fall short of banning the use of hands-free mobile units in cars, something we and others have highlighted is just as distracting and dangerous as a hand-held unit.”


 

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    I have always thought that hand held phones being illegal and hands free being legal was illogical from a road safety point of view.

    Perhaps the issue is whether the government think banning hands-free will aid or hinder votes and popularity? One presumes they think there is more for them to lose than to gain.


    Guzzi, Newport
    Agree (1) | Disagree (0)
    +1

    I think the research does show that using hands free is no safer than holding the mobile. Research has also shown there is a difference between the distraction of talking to a passenger and visa versa or listening to the radio or even checking the speedometer. The real problem with making hands free illegal is probably the difficulty the Police will have enforcing such a Law.


    Philip Blake, Jersey
    Agree (5) | Disagree (2)
    +3

    Yes quite correct Mr Marsh – if one had to look ‘continually’ at the speedometer (or anything else for that matter) that took one’s eyes off the road ‘continually’, that would indeed be dangerous so..don’t do it.. nobody has to!


    Hugh Jones
    Agree (8) | Disagree (3)
    +5

    Having to continually look at the speedometer to ensure that you are not a few MPH over the limit is far more dangerous, in my opinion.


    Glen Marsh, Bournemouth
    Agree (3) | Disagree (14)
    --11

    For comparison, imagine a surgeon performing a very delicate operation….he/she will have to talk to the other attendant personnel without eye-contact possibly, look up at a monitor a couple of times maybe, but importantly, all tied in with and relevant to the task in hand, however… imagine now the surgeon doing all that with a ‘phone cupped to his ear and having a conversation with someone whose voice is indistinct, discussing a round of golf. Would you want to be the patient?


    Hugh Jones
    Agree (7) | Disagree (14)
    --7

    > This has brought about criticism from road safety stakeholders, including Brake, who says the current laws provide a ‘dangerous false impression’ about hands-free mobile phones.

    No, this action (no matter how misguided) doesn’t create a dangerous false impression. The dangerous false impression that is being created is by Brake themselves and I seriously wish they stop for a moment to reflect about whatever it is they are trying to say before making a knee-jerk press release (as is their wont); it’s not necessarily the action of using a hands free phone that is dangerous, it is more fundamentally a case of just being distracted.

    And frankly, you can be distracted by talking to your friends in the car. Shall we ban distracting things such as engine/vehicle warning lights, talking to passengers – or even having passengers in the same compartment as the driver? What about looking at rear view mirror etc whilst driving?


    David Weston, Newcastle-upon-Tyne
    Agree (21) | Disagree (11)
    +10

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