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Ban on using a mobile phone while driving could be extended to include hands-free

Drivers in the Sudbury area could be banned from using a mobile behind the wheel - even hands-free.

A group of MPs says a device in that setting is just as distracting as using a hand-held phone.

They want a ban that's already in place for driving while holding a phone to be extended.

It's a criminal offence to use a mobile phone while driving (15244985)
It's a criminal offence to use a mobile phone while driving (15244985)

It would also include satellite navigation systems.

The Transport Select Committee says the government should consider tougher restrictions to prevent the "entirely avoidable" tragedy of deaths and serious injuries from related crashes on the roads.

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 number of people killed or seriously injured has risen steadily since 2011.

Lilian Greenwood, chairman of the committee, said: "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.

"If mobile phone use while driving is to become as socially unacceptable as drink driving much more effort needs to go into educating drivers about the risks and consequences of using a phone behind the wheel.

"Offenders also need to know there is a credible risk of being caught, and that there are serious consequences for being caught."

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."

Despite penalties for using a hand-held mobile phone behind the wheel being increased in 2017, a report today is calling for them to be reviewed again so drivers who are caught face more serious consequences.

A Department for Transport spokesperson said: "While mobile phones are a vital part of modern life and business, drivers must always use them safely and responsibly.

"Being distracted by a mobile phone while driving is dangerous and puts people’s lives at risk.

"The law is clear that anyone driving dangerously is committing a criminal offence."