Nothing accidental about using a mobile phone whilst driving
So the House of Commons Transport Committee has reported back on their mobile phone inquiry.
The Transport Committee’s recommended the Government…
Here RoadPeace feedbacks on three key issues raised and what more should be done to detect and deter use of mobile phones by drivers.
Banning handsfree use
First, much of the press focused on the recommendation to consider banning hands free mobile phone use. This is long overdue. It has been over 17 years since the evidence started mounting of the risks involved with drivers using mobile phones, even hands free, with a 2002 TRL research report concluding that
driving behaviour is impaired more during a phone conversation than by having a blood alcohol level at the UK legal limit (80mg / 100ml)
In 2018, WHO reported that some 33 countries had banned hands free phone use, including many in Africa, Middle East and Latin America. So whilst Britain is often described as a world leader in road safety, we (and the rest of Europe) are lagging behind in tackling mobile phone use.
Second, new evidence submitted to the inquiry highlighted how the risk persists after the call….
with a hands-free phone call, or with any phone conversation, for around five minutes after you have ended the conversation—if that is what you were doing with the phone—you are still at significantly increased risk of being involved in a collision. You are around four times more likely to be involved in a collision for five minutes after you have ended the call. That is because we are talking about cognitive distraction.
Enforcement is key
And third, as rightfully recognised by the Transport Committee, enforcement is key. But RoadPeace’s recent analysis has showed, enforcement is missing. Our Tackling the mobile menace briefing, published this April, revealed just how extensive the decline in mobile phone detection has been. Sanctions for mobile phone use by drivers in 2017 had fallen 67% from 2011, with 35% of this decrease since 2016. Almost all police services reported a decrease in mobile phone detections, with only Staffordshire and Hampshire reporting an increase between 2011 and 2017.
With only 426,282 drivers sanctioned for using a mobile phone in 2017 across England and Wales, this is an average of three sanctions per day per police service.
But the frequency of detection and sanctions varied widely across police services. The national average for the number of mobile phone sanctions given per Killed and Seriously injured in England and Wales was 1.6. But this varied from a low of 0.5 in South Yorkshire to 3.8 in Cheshire.
What more recommendations did RoadPeace want to see?
Here’s a few more recommendations for government….
This is also why the reported contributory factor statistics on mobile phone use are misleading. There is no accurate data on the number of collisions caused by mobile phone use as this is not being checked.
We need Magistrates Sentencing Guidelines to encourage greater use of driving bans, with bans mandatory in cases where serious injury has been caused.
The Transport Committee’s report was published during August, National Road Victim Month. This year the theme is Crash not accident. There is nothing accidental about using a mobile phone whilst driving. RoadPeace appreciates the Transport Committee’s report referred to collisions throughout its report.