Lack of mobile coverage a threat to driver safety

12.00 | 1 December 2015 | | 3 comments


Almost 4,600 miles of British roads have no 2G mobile phone coverage from any network provider meaning drivers couldn’t call for help in the case of a breakdown, accident or emergency.

Revealed in a study by the RAC Foundation, the stretches of road – measuring 4,561 miles in total – represent 2% of the length of Britain’s road network.

Among the roads which have stretches with no mobile phone signal coverage are the A93 in Scotland, A149 in East Anglia, A494 in Wales and A591 in Cumbria.

The second generation of mobile telephony systems (2G coverage) is needed for making calls and sending text messages. Without this coverage, drivers are unable to call for help in an emergency.

12% of roads (28,975 miles) have partial network coverage meaning if a mobile phone user is in a location where its mobile phone network provides no coverage, but another network does, then an emergency call can be made from that phone.

Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation, said: “Most of us like to think we are always just a mobile phone call away from help but even in a crowded, high-tech country like Britain the reality is somewhat different.

“Our work shows there are thousands of miles of road along which you would not want to break down or have an accident because calling the RAC, the emergency services or even home wouldn’t be an option. Even where there is partial network coverage it might not be from your network provider.”

The research also looked into the availability of 3G coverage, which is required to use smart phones effectively for applications such as navigation tools. It found that there are 14,554 miles of road (6%) where there is a complete absence of 3G coverage.

Steve Gooding added: “Increasingly we drivers depend on our smart phones for everything from telling us how to get from A to B, to what the weather is going be, to where the congestion is.

“Yet both 3G and 4G coverage is still patchy in many areas and the chance of downloading data when we need it can often be slim.

“The concepts of connected cars and drivers is at the heart of much thinking about how we might make our travelling lives easier. But the best ideas in the world will fall at the first hurdle if there are no bars on the phone.”

The RAC Foundation based its analysis on official Ofcom data. According to Ofcom, 93% of UK adults own/use a mobile phone and 66% of UK adults have a smartphone.



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    Hmm a bit of an over-egged headline? Maybe not perceived as so much of a “threat to driver safety” for those of us who learnt to ride/drive at a time when we didn’t even have a phone at home and mobiles were only the stuff of science fiction films.

    Pat, Wales
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

    Maybe the lack of phone coverage in the event of a collision should be offset against the presence of phone coverage causing distractions which cause collisions.

    Rod King, 20’s Plenty for Us
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

    Presumably this would also affect the claimed usefulness of soon to be mandatory eCall?

    Paul Biggs, Tamworth
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

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