Phone buttons

A complete ban on mobile phone use while driving - including hands-free – is long overdue and should be relatively easy to enforce, according to licence checking service Licence Bureau.

It was responding to a report out earlier this month from an influential committee of MPs, which concluded that laws should be overhauled to extend the ban on mobile phone use to hands-free phones.

Evidence shows that hands-free devices create the same risks of crashing as hand-held mobiles and yet the rate of enforcement has plunged by two thirds since 2011.

Malcolm Maycock, MD at Licence Bureau, said advancements in technology could enable the police to enforce a total ban and he said vehicle manufacturers and mobile phone providers could assist them:

“It is absolutely the right thing to do – lives are being lost and it is long overdue,” he said. “Patrol cars already have automatic number plate recognition technology onboard, as well as stolen vehicle detection systems, so why not extend this capability to identify mobile phone use in a vehicle?”

Maycock added that the use of mobile phone detection warning signs as an educational tool could be extended to include camera back-up to identify single occupancy in vehicles and that drivers have had 16 years to absorb the fact that their use while driving is illegal.

Licence Bureau is in its fifth year of a complete mobile phone use ban for its employees while behind the wheel and it is also company policy that if any employee calls or receives a call from someone they believe is using a mobile while driving, they are to end the call immediately.

The Transport Select Committee found that the number of people killed or seriously injured in collisions where a driver using a mobile phone was a contributory factor has risen steadily since 2011.

Committee chair Lilian Greenwood MP said there needed to be tougher restrictions and better enforcement and she added: “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.”