Hands-free is just as dangerous

A committee of members of parliament (MP) in England are proposing banning the use of hands-free cellphone devices while driving a vehicle, including when riding motorcycles.

The Commons Select Committee has said that the Government should consider extending the law on using a mobile phone while driving and has called for a public consultation on the issue by the end of 2019.

The committee argues that the use of a mobile phone while riding or driving, whether handheld or through hands-free devices poses the same risks.

"There is 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," said member of parliament, Lilian Greenwood, Chair of the Committee.

"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."

The use of hand-held mobile phones while driving was made illegal in 2003. Hands-free devices, such as Bluetooth headsets or earpieces, were permitted as a safer alternative.

Bluetooth hands-free devices, such as those offered by brands like Cardo Systems and Sena, have become popular with groups of riders for their ease of communicating with each other, as well as for taking calls while riding.

Motorists caught using a handheld phone can incur six points on their license and be fined £200. This has risen from the original penalty of three points and a fine of £100.

According to the BBC, an expert told the committee that taking a hands-free call was ‘essentially the same’ as being at the legal limit for alcohol in the blood in England and Wales.

The same group of MPs recommend an increase in penalties to serve as a further deterrent.

If such a ban is imposed in the UK, it could spark discussions of similar bans in the rest of Europe and perhaps the rest of the world.