Using hands-free phones while driving should be BANNED, MPs suggest
13 August 2019, 12:25 | Updated: 13 August 2019, 12:27
MPs have outlined plans to tackle unsafe driving - including banning the use of hands-free mobile devices while behind the wheel.
It could soon become illegal to speak on a hands-free mobile phones in England and Wales if a group of MPs get their way.
While using a handheld phone at the wheel has been banned since 2003, the Commons Transport Select Committee have warned the current laws gives the "misleading impression" that using hands-free is safe.
However, an expert claimed that taking a phone call on speaker causes "essentially the same" amount of distraction as being at the legal limit for alcohol blood level in England and Wales.
The cross-party committee acknowledged there would be some practical challenges in enforcing the law, but it called for the government to launch a public consultation on the matter by the end of the year.
The committee chair, Lilian Greenwood MP, explained: “There is a misleading impression that hands-free use is safe.
"The reality is that any use of a phone distracts from a driver’s ability to pay full attention, and the government should consider extending the ban to reflect this.”
However, motoring organisations such as the AA have since hit back at the claims, arguing that taking calls while driving is sometimes necessary.
AA President Edmund King said: “Drivers should avoid making or receiving calls where possible.
“However a short, sharp, voice activated call can be beneficial to road safety.
“For example, a very short call saying that you are going to be late will stop people from speeding or driving in a dangerous manner.”
Penalties for using a handheld mobile phone while driving were doubled in 2017 to six points on a licence and a £200 fine.
However, the rate of enforcement has fallen by more than two thirds over the past eight years.
In 2017, there were 773 casualties, including 43 deaths and 135 serious injuries, in crashes involving mobile phones.