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.”