Tougher restrictions should be considered by the government on drivers who use mobile phones in a bid to prevent the “entirely avoidable’ deaths and serious injuries from related crashes,” a group of MPs have said.
The transport select committee also stated that the government should consider extending the ban on hand-held devices to hands-free devices.
The committee said the evidence is clear, “using a mobile phone while driving is dangerous, with potentially catastrophic consequences.”
In 2017, there were 773 casualties, including 43 deaths and 135 serious injuries, in collisions where a driver using a mobile phone was a contributory factor.
The number of people killed or seriously injured has risen steadily since 2011, but the rate of enforcement has plunged by more than two thirds since 2011.
The committee said it welcomed the government’s review of roads policing and traffic enforcement, in its report published today it calls on the government to work with police to boost enforcement and make better use of technology.
Penalties for using a hand-held mobile phone while driving were increased in 2017 “but still do not appear to be commensurate with the risk created and should be reviewed and potentially increased so that it is clear there are serious consequences to being caught,” says the Report.
Chair of the Committee, Lilian Greenwood MP, said:
“Despite the real risk of catastrophic consequences for themselves, their passengers and other road users, far too many drivers continue to break the law by using hand-held mobile phones.
If mobile phone use while driving is to become as socially unacceptable as drink driving much more effort needs to go into educating drivers about the risks and consequences of using a phone behind the wheel. Offenders also need to know there is a credible risk of being caught, and that there are serious consequences for being caught.
There is also 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.
Each death and serious injury which results from a driver using a mobile phone is a tragedy that is entirely avoidable. We need tougher restrictions, better enforcement and more education to make our roads safer for all.”
Edmund King, the AA president, said: “Offenders think the chance of being caught is minimal. Following a reduction of specialist traffic officers by a third, a good deterrent would be to have more cops in cars targeting those tempted to pick up the phone.”