Almost half of motorists admit to using their mobile phones either on hands-free or handheld while driving. According to research from motoring charity Brake, 45% of drivers say they make calls when on the road.
It is more than 10 years since drivers were banned from using handheld phones and results indicate that while their use has dropped, hands-free use has risen.
One in eight (13%) of motorists surveyed admit to breaking the law by holding their phones while chatting – a large drop from over a third (36%) in 2006. Hands-free use has risen to nearly four in 10 (38%), from one in five (22%).
While using a hands-free kit is legal, the charity Brake believes that making calls in this way is just as risky as holding the phone. Brake’s deputy chief executive Julie Townsend said:
“It is shocking that, 10 years after the ban, one in eight drivers continues to flout the law and put lives in danger by using a hand-held mobile at the wheel. Just as worrying is the widespread belief that using a hands-free kit is a safe alternative. Don’t kid yourself, it’s not.”
The charity is calling for a complete ban on any use of phones while driving.
It says the risk of being in a crash that causes injury is increased four times for drivers on both handheld and hands-free phones, with reactions 50% slower than under normal conditions.
The Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986 (as amended) creates three offences, namely:
- driving whilst using a hand-held mobile telephone or other hand-held communication device;
- causing or permitting someone to drive whilst that person is using a hand-held mobile telephone or other hand-held communication device; and
- supervising a learner driver whilst using a hand-held mobile telephone or other hand-held communication device at a time when the learner driver is driving a motor vehicle on a road.
“Using” a mobile phone does not just mean talking into an actual mobile phone. It can include any communication, whether by way of SMS texts, e-mail, faxes, video/picture/voice/multimedia messaging, and anything over the internet. Furthermore, this communication may be on any device (other than a two-way radio) which performs an interactive communication function by transmitting and receiving data.
Breach of these Regulations can lead to an on-the-spot fine of £100 plus 3 penalty points, and if it reaches Court it may result in a fine up to £1,000 (£2,500 for drivers of buses or goods vehicles).
If any of the issues outlined in this article affect you, please feel free to contact a member of the Traffic Lawyers Team, who will be pleased to assist you.