This year we’ve seen a rise in road traffic accidents in Lincolnshire with an unusually high number of fatalities since the start of 2016. While there’s no suggestion that mobile phone use is directly responsible, it seems a good moment to consider the ways in which we can make our roads safer.
Driving whilst using a hand-held mobile phone has been banned since 2003 but no such law applies to hands-free kits. This is madness.
There is now a large body of research that shows that using hands-free mobile phones is dangerous. One study found that people’s driving ability is as impaired by using a hands-free mobile as it is by drink driving.
But while most people wouldn’t dream of having five pints and then driving home, they’re happy to use their hands-free phone in the car.
The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents and the road charity Brake have been urging the government to ban hands-free driving for years, so far to no avail.
But there are signs of change. A growing number of employers are waking up to the dangers of driving whilst using a hands-free phone.
Organisations such as the BBC have banned their employees from using hands-free kits, conscious both of the safety of their staff as well as their own legal liability.
I know that those who’ve paid for a hands-free kit might resent giving it up but if you feel like that, ask yourself: are you putting your own selfish convenience ahead of the lives of your passengers or other road users?
If a call is so urgent, then just find a safe place to pull over and make the call.
It’s worth remembering that not many years ago drink driving was also seen as acceptable: thankfully, effective campaigning and legislation means there are now fewer drinking-related accidents and have led to a change in social attitudes.
If banning the use of hands-free mobile phones stopped just one accident then it would be worth doing. It’s time the government took action.