13 August 2019
The House of Commons Transport Committee has recommended that the penalties for driving while using a hand-held phone should be reviewed and tougher penalties be applied for what should be regarded as a danger to road users.
The committee says hands-free versions can be just as dangerous as hand-held phones and MPs in the committee suggest the law gives the "misleading impression" that hands-free mobiles are safe while driving, but they create "the same risks of a collision".
Although it is likely to be challenging to enforce any ban on people using hand-held phones, the committee believes it is still a serious issue that needs to be dealt with. It concluded that “Increasing the penalties for driving while using a mobile phone in 2017 appears to have changed behaviour in the short-term, but there is already evidence that bad habits are creeping back in.”
National Chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales John Apter has seen the consequences of accidents on the country’s roads and understands the need for a change, not only among drivers but in society.
He said: "Having spent almost 15 years as a roads policing officer I have seen first-hand the devastation that people using mobile phones while driving can cause and I welcome anything that sparks debate about this important issue.
“While we mustn’t ignore the evidence, I can’t see how having a blanket ban could be practically enforced. The police service has lost 22,000 officers since 2010 and with many gone from specialist units, including roads policing, we already struggle to enforce the laws currently in place to stop people using handheld phones when driving.
"Even if we were able to fully enforce the law, the police service cannot and should not be responsible for solving this issue alone. There must be a be a shift in society’s attitude. Using a phone while driving must become as socially unacceptable as drink driving. And this message must be reinforced by the technology and vehicle industries and combined with Government-led educational campaigns.”