Welwyn Garden City charity calls for tougher actions against driving while using a mobile phone

PUBLISHED: 17:41 13 August 2019 | UPDATED: 17:41 13 August 2019

IAM RoadSmart says control of hands-free mobile phones is '‘long overdue'’. Picture: IAM RoadSmart

IAM RoadSmart says control of hands-free mobile phones is ''long overdue''. Picture: IAM RoadSmart

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Welwyn Garden City-based IAM RoadSmart says it's time to bust the myth of multi-tasking behind the wheel.

The charity, which aims to enhance road safety, wants to ensure drivers are fully aware of how dangerous a hands-free mobile phone can be.

Today the Transport Select Committee called on the government to consider tougher restrictions on driving while using a mobile phone and stricter enforcement of the law.

With the report Road Safety: Driving While Using a Mobile Phone issued stating that "using a mobile phone while driving is dangerous, with potentially catastrophic consequences," IAM RoadSmart says there needs to be much stricter controls on the use of hands-free mobile phones in cars.

However, the charity said that it cannot see how any ban can be enforced, with a lack of police numbers meaning drivers feel they won't get caught.

In 2017 there were 43 deaths in collisions where a driver using a mobile phone was a contributory factor. Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto/Zephyr18In 2017 there were 43 deaths in collisions where a driver using a mobile phone was a contributory factor. Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto/Zephyr18

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Official statistics show that 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 figures show that the number of people killed or seriously injured has risen steadily since 2011, however alarmingly the rate of enforcement has dropped by more than two-thirds since then.

Two years ago, motorists caught using a hand-held phone have faced a punishment of six points on their licence and a £200 fine - a doubling of the previous penalty.

The Welwyn Garden City-based charity says tougher enforcement will be near impossible without new tech and more police. Picture: ANTONY KELLY.The Welwyn Garden City-based charity says tougher enforcement will be near impossible without new tech and more police. Picture: ANTONY KELLY.

Neil Greig, IAM RoadSmart director of policy and research, said: "IAM RoadSmart strongly welcomed the House of Commons Transport Committee report as it fully confirms what we have known for some time - multi tasking is a myth and any form of smartphone use at the wheel is distracting.

"Clarifying the law so that any use of a phone that involves holding it or placing in the driver's lap is made illegal should be a top government priority. It doesn't matter if it's for music selection or social media updates, it all increases risk behind the wheel particularly for new drivers.

"New laws and tougher penalties are welcome but will only work if the fear of being caught is increased."

To read the report click here.

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