Fleet News

Total phone ban still a possibility

Transport secretary Jim Fitzpatrick has refused to rule out a complete ban on mobile phone use in cars.

Mr Fitzpatrick said there were no firm plans for a total ban at the moment, but added: “The evidence appears to be growing that talking on a phone while driving is a serious distraction.

“As evidence and new statistics start emerging, there may be a much stronger case .”

Driving while talking on a handheld mobile phone was banned in 2003, and earlier this year the penalty was upped from a £30 to £60 and three penalty points.

Research by the Transport Research Laboratory has shown that talking on a mobile phone while driving – even when using a hands-free kit – is more dangerous than drink-driving.

Mr Fitzpatrick said more people now understand how dangerous the practice is.

“Drink-driving was once socially acceptable but now isn’t because we were able to demonstrate how dangerous it is,” he told Fleet News at the Best of the Best conference organised by road safety charity Brake.

“People are now getting the message and now know that talking on a mobile phone is dangerous.

“In terms of road safety and our commitment to help cut the number of deaths and serious injuries, we would never exclude anything ultimately from being examined.

“The new Highway Code discourages people from using hands-free kits. People shouldn’t be distracted, and talking on a phone can be distracting.”

The Government is currently advising van drivers not to use hands-free phones while on the road as part of its Think! campaign, which focuses on safety while driving for work.

The next phase of the campaign – which launched in February this year – will target fleet drivers.

“If everyone plays their part, we can go a long way toward cutting down the numbers of people of people killed and seriously injured on our roads,” said Mr Fitzpatrick.

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