Using a hand-held phone whilst driving is illegal, and if you’re caught behind the wheel you could be fined £100 and have 3 penalty points put on your driving licence.
Road safety charity, Brake, however, are calling for this ban to be extended to the use of hands-free mobile phones too. They argue that any kind of mobile phone use – whether hand-held or hands-free – can be distracting for drivers, and could lead to accidents on the road.
The charity are also calling for the fine for using your phone at the wheel to be increased from £100 to somewhere between £500 and £1,000, stating that a Freedom of Information request shows more than 500,000 people had received points for using a phone or being otherwise distracted.
Brake’s Road Safety Week
Brake’s calls for change come as they launch their annual Road Safety Week, from 18-24 November 2013, which, this year, is all about distraction.
The campaign, which is being supported by the Association of Chief Police Officers, is urging drivers to turn their phones off when behind the wheel, and for the public to refuse to speak on the phone to someone they know is driving.
Brake’s research suggests that 98% of drivers are unable to divide their time without it affecting their ability to drive safely. When taking a call, therefore, drivers are likely to be distracted, even if using a hands-free device.
Brake’s Deputy Chief Executive, Julie Townsend, said:
“We’re living in an age when being constantly connected is the norm. More and more of us have smartphones, and find it hard to switch off, even for a minute.
“While there are enormous benefits to this new technology, it’s also posing dangerous temptations to drivers to divert their concentration away from the critical task at hand, often putting our most vulnerable road users in danger.
“Many people who wouldn’t dream of drink-driving are succumbing to using their phone and other distractions while driving, oblivious that the effect can be as similar and the consequences just as horrific.”
No current plans to ban hands-free
Although the Department for Transport state that road safety is their ‘top priority’, they have confirmed that ‘there are no plans to change the law around the use of hands-free devices’.
To find out more about Brake’s Road Safety week, and to see how you can get involved, visit www.roadsafetyweek.org.uk.
Here, you’ll also find out about the Brake pledge, which asks drivers to drive slower, stay sober, to buckle up, to turn their phones off, to check their eyesight and to drive sustainability.
Last modified: 18th November 2013