MPs have called on the government to consider tougher restrictions of driving while using a mobile phone – including hands-free devices.
The House of Commons transport committee said there were 773 casualties, including 43 deaths, in 2017 where drivers were using mobile phones.
The number of people killed or seriously injured has risen steadily since 2011, but the rate of enforcement has fallen by two thirds over the same period.
The MPs found that using a hands-free device creates the same risk of crashing as hand-held devices, and consequently wants to extend the ban to them.
Committee chair Lilian Greenwood said: “Offenders need to know there is a credible risk of being caught, and that there are serious consequences for being caught.
“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.”
The proposals brought a swift response from the Road Haulage Association.
“We totally agree that drivers should not touch their phone while driving – put it in the glove box and forget it, said chief executive Richard Burnett. “But voice-activated devices, as fitted in the majority of vehicles, make communication safe and viable.
“Ours is an industry that is time critical and the ever increasing levels of congestion on the road network mean that communication is more important than ever. It’s vital that the driver can stay in touch. The vast majority of UK manufacturing plants now rely on just-in-time deliveries. Taking away the ability for drivers to keep in touch could seriously effect of production times.”