News & Features

MPs Call for Stricter Laws on Mobile Phone Use

Posted in General News on Thursday, August 15th, 2019

MPs from the Transport Select Committee have asked the government to consider changing the laws around mobile phone use while driving. Currently a driver is only breaking the law if he or she is using a hand-held phone while driving and this phone is being used as a communication device in some way. However, following their report on the issue, the Transport Select Committee believes that the government should ban all mobile phone use while driving regardless of whether or not the phone is being used to send or receive data or whether or not it is hands-free. In the report Dr Shaun Helman, the Chief Scientist for the Transportation Division at the Transport Research Laboratory (TRL) expressed concerns that the driving public has consistently proven that using a hands-free phone interferes with a person’s ability to drive and slows down their reaction times. He also said that “whether the phone is sending data or not has no bearing on how distracted you are as a driver”.

Calls for this change in the law have intensified following the result of a high profile court case which saw the 51 year old motorist, Ramsey Barreto cleared of the offence of using a mobile phone while driving by two High Court judges on 31st July 2019. Two years ago Mr Barreto used his mobile phone while driving to film an accident, but because he wasn’t using the phone to communicate or send and receive data in any way the High Court overturned the conviction. Louis Mably QC the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) appealed the decision saying: ”There is no rational distinction to be drawn between a mobile telephone used by a driver to perform an interactive communication function on the one hand, and use by a driver for a different equally distracting purpose on the other." This appeal was dismissed by Lady Justice Thirlwall despite her admitting that the regulations were “cumbersome”.

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David Bryan Sears's Gravatar
David Bryan Sears

Thursday, August, 15th, 2019

I receive hands free calls while driving and I still pay attention to the road, whilst talking! If I see a situation arising like a road traffic accident ahead. I tell my caller I will call them back later and cease the call. Then after the call has ended it leaves me free to report the accident on my mobile, still hands free. Imagine, a traffic accident and a total ban on using your mobile phone, how would the Police and Ambulance be called? A life may depend on a quick response. I am driving down a road and see a crime being committed on a deserted road at night, do I ignore it or wait to get to a phone box? This is when a law can work against itself and Dr Shaun Helman needs to think this through before cart blanch knee jerk decisions like this. Another scenario is a policeman using his walkie-talkie whilst driving, ask yourself was he distracted while driving when he hit a person on a crossing? He is human after all, just like the rest of us!!!

Heather 's Gravatar
Heather

Thursday, August, 15th, 2019

I don’t understand why the emphasis on stopping people using hands free mobile phones when actually it is no different from having passengers in the car and talking to them. If they are saying it is a distraction to talk to someone on a mobile phone, are they then going to say that we must not talk to our passengers? Having a noisy passenger or just having an in-depth discussion with a passenger could potentially be just as dangerous, but no one seems to be seeing that!