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UK government may ban hands-free phone use while driving

Aug 15, 2019
The UK government is considering banning the use of hands-free phone use while driving, following a report published on 13 August, 2019 by the House of Commons Transport Committee.

Official statistics show that in 2017 there were 773 casualties in the UK resulting in 43 deaths and 135 serious injuries, where a driver using a mobile phone was a contributory factor. The number of people killed or seriously injured has risen steadily since 2011.  

According to the report, evidence shows that using a hands-free device creates the same risks of crashing as using a hand-held phone.

However, the Road Haulage Association (RHA) while condemning the use of hand-held devices while driving is concerned that a blanket ban on mobile phones could make life difficult for the transport industry.

Commenting, RHA Chief Executive Richard Burnett said, “For years we have condemned the use of hand-held devices, but for truckers it is essential that they are able to be contacted and can make contact with their base or their customers.”

“We totally agree that drivers should not touch their phone while driving – put it in the glove box and forget it. But voice-activated devices, as fitted in the majority of vehicles, make communication safe and viable.”

Meanwhile, road safety charity IAM Roadsmart believes banning hands-free is long overdue.

Neil Greig, IAM RoadSmart’s Director of Policy and Research said, “IAM RoadSmart strongly welcomed the House of Commons Transport Committee report as it fully confirms what we have known for some time – multitasking is a myth and any form of smartphone use at the wheel is distracting.”

IAM RoadSmart has also called for the greater use of education campaigns to ensure drivers are aware of the risks of a hands-free call.

 

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