Calls for the government to ban hands free devices at the wheel
Using a handheld mobile phone behind the wheel has been an offence since 2003 and incurs a £100 fine and 3 penalty points on your licence. There’s also a risk that you could go to court and be disqualified from driving and get a maximum fine of £1000 or £2500 depending on the type of vehicle you were driving.
France made it illegal to use any hands-free device while driving, a law which came into effect on the 30th June 2015. In the UK it is not illegal to use a hands-free device whilst driving, if your driving is not impaired, however if you are seen to not be in control of your vehicle, then the penalties are the same as using a mobile phone whilst driving. Although it is not illegal to use a hands-free device while driving, studies have shown that they still impair a driver’s ability to recognise and react to hazards.
If your employer requires you to answer calls while you are driving, or they permit you to drive while using the phone, they could be open to prosecution. If you need to take a car, pull over and switch your engine off. Even if you have pulled over, if your car’s engine is still running and you answer the phone, you are still acting illegally.
Using a hands-free device isn’t the only thing that can prove to be a distraction. Eating, especially foods that you have to unwrap or hot food; can prove quite the distraction. Also, hot drinks can be distracting, especially if you switch concentration from the road to ensuring that you don’t spill the drink on yourself; and of course, smoking is distracting if you’re concentrating on lighting the cigarette and ensuring no hot ashes fall on your clothes.
Researchers also claim that children are the biggest in car distraction, far more so than mobile phones. On average, in 90 out of 92 trips, distracting activity was detected and drivers took their eyes off the road for three minutes and twenty-two seconds during a sixteen minute journey. It would be a lot more difficult to ban all things that could prove to be a distraction though, so where do we draw the line? How easy would it be to enforce if we banned everything considered distracting?
If you have points on your licence it’s important to report them when applying for insurance otherwise your cover could be invalidated.