Four in ten adults believe drivers should be banned from using hands-free mobile phones
Four in ten adults believe drivers should be banned from using hands-free mobile phones, says the Department for Transport.
Although it is illegal to use a handheld mobile phone at the wheel, motorists are currently allowed to use hands-free kits.
These Bluetooth devices have to be fully set up, so drivers can take calls without handling their phone.
It is illegal to pick the phone up and operate it even momentarily. But many believe the law does not go far enough.
Half of adults believe that all use of mobile phones while driving, including hands-free phones, is dangerous.
This is down from 59 per cent a decade ago, as the technology has improved, but the figure remains high.
Some 40 per cent support a total ban of mobile phones at the wheel, according to Department of Transport’s public attitudes towards transport study.
The RAC, which has described the use of hand held mobile phones at the wheel as an ‘epidemic’, said this would be a step too far.
Its road safety spokesman Pete Williams said: ‘Taking a short call on a hands free device is not much difference than having a conversation with a passenger, and is probably less distracting than noisy kids in the back seat.’
But Jason Wakeford, director of road safety charity Brake, said: ‘Whilst our biggest concern is with hand-held devices, we would still argue that hands-free kits can be very distracting. If you’re talking on the phone your mind will be slightly off the road.’
According to the government report, almost nine in ten (88 per cent) of adults agreed that it is not safe to drive using a hand-held mobile phone. This percentage has remained consistent for a decade.
Seven in ten also believe the law banning the use of mobile phones at the wheel is not being properly policed.
The report, which was conducted last year, found that 71 per cent of respondents agreed or strongly agreed that the ‘law on using mobile phones whilst driving is not properly enforced’.
This level has also remained similar since 2007.
The findings, which are based on interviews with 2,942 adults, heap further pressure on the government to crack down on the problem.
Tougher penalties were introduced by the government earlier this year, following a campaign by the Daily Mail and motoring group the RAC.
Newly qualified drivers will lose their licence if caught using a handheld mobile phone at the wheel
Newly qualified drivers will lose their licence if caught using a handheld mobile phone at the wheel.
Penalty points and fines for using a phone while driving have doubled, to six points and £200.
Drivers can have their licence revoked if they accrue six points within two years of passing their test.
Those caught using their mobile twice, or who accrue 12 points on their licence, will face magistrates’ court, disqualification and fines of up to £1,000.
Twenty-two people were killed and 99 seriously injured in road accidents where drivers were using a mobile phone last year in Britain.
According to the RAC, the number of dedicated roads policing officers has declined by almost a third in ten years, with just 2,643 in England and Wales.
But Mr Williams said catching offenders using a hand-held phone whilst driving has become a priority for many police forces since the tougher penalties were introduced.
He said: ‘The law is clear, and the penalties for disobeying it are now stronger for very good reason – a pinging, buzzing smartphone represents one of the biggest modern day distractions in a moving vehicle.
‘Government and industry must not let up in their efforts to explain the risks of dangerous mobile phone use to UK motorists.’