Ever since mobile phones started to be used by people whilst driving vehicles, it has been argued that using a mobile phone whilst driving, impairs the person’s ability to drive safely, increases the risk of a collision; and subsequently increases the risk of serious injury or even death to not only the driver and/or passengers; but to other vehicle occupants and pedestrians too.
Despite being illegal since 2003, there is not a day that goes by, where drivers are seen to be on their mobile phones whilst driving, turning corners and even going through red lights.
The Parliamentary committee – The Transport Committee – in March this year decided to launch an enquiry into road traffic collisions and invited views on the Government’s current approach and asked for suggestions on what interventions would be most effective at reducing the number road traffic collisions and the subsequent levels of injuries and deaths.
Several submissions to their call for evidence identified the issue of driving while using a mobile phone as a major area of concern.
In 2017 there were 773 casualties, including 43 fatalities and 135 serious injuries, in road traffic collisions where a driver using a mobile phone was a contributory factor in the crash.
Concerned about the prevalence of people driving while using a mobile phone, and the tragic consequences this can have, the Transport Committee held a one-off evidence session on the subject with Dr Gemma Briggs, Senior Lecturer in Psychology at the Open University, Dr Shaun Helman, Chief Scientist on Transportation and Behavioural Science at the Transport Research Laboratory, and Nick Lyes, Head of Roads Policy at the RAC, in order to better understand the risks this presents to road safety, and what the Government should do to address this issue.
This session identified three key areas where the Government needed to take action:
a) how the offence is defined in law and the penalties associated with it;
b) how the offence can be better enforced; and
c) how the public can be made aware of the risks and consequences of driving while using a mobile phone.
In a statement in the subsequent Transport Committee’s report, the authors said:
“The central message from our evidence was that if an offence is to be effective:
it has to be well-defined and publicised so that motorists know what is and is not against the law and the serious safety risk driving while using a mobile phone poses to them and others;
the offence must be backed up with a high enough penalty for motorists to take it seriously; and there must be a serious prospect of offenders being caught.
This Report sets out our findings and recommendations in the above areas, for consideration by Ministers.”
The report was published today 13th August via the Parliament UK website.
In a section entitled The Dangers of using a mobile phone whilst driving, the report states:
Using a mobile phone or other device while driving impairs a person’s ability to drive safely and makes a road traffic collision more likely. This is true whether a device is hand-held or being used hands-free.
It is a tragedy—and one which is entirely avoidable—that 43 people were killed and a further 135 were seriously injured in 2017 in road traffic collisions where a driver using a mobile phone was a contributory factor in the crash.
We welcome the Government’s plans to publish an analysis of mobile phone use while driving, in order to help it decide what more needs to be done to tackle this activity.
We hope that the evidence we have taken and the recommendations we make in this Report will be useful to the Government as it decides what further action is necessary.
You can read the full report here
Source: Parliament UK / Unionsafety
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