Will drivers be banned from using hands-free kits in their cars?

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With the Brexit deadline looming and Boris Johnson settling into life at Number 10, you can be forgiven for overlooking any news coming from the House of Commons. However, there may be a story or two that evokes your interest. MPs have suggested that drivers may soon be banned from using hands-free kits while on the road. It has been claimed that current laws give the “misleading” impression that hand-free options are safe, as reported by the bbc.co.uk.

Pros and cons of hands-free

One of the main benefits of going hands-free while driving is that you’re able to continue a conversation with someone at the same time as being able to steer the car with both hands. Additionally, by using your speakerphone, you’re reducing the amount of time that the phone is pressed to your head, meaning exposure to radio-frequency energy is limited.

It also makes for increased productivity and easier multi-tasking, even more so when the kit is used to dial into conference calls. After all, some calls are just too important to miss, something that is supported by a great selection of 0800 and 0808 numbers from planet-numbers.co.uk.

Admittedly, it can be argued that some may find hands-free kits just as distracting as traditional calling, and hands-free is by no means risk-free. Moreover, at times, it can be harder for you to hear the person on the receiving end of the call, even more so if both parties are using a speakerphone. Such devices can also prove to be an added one-time expense.


Current laws surrounding hands-free

It has been illegal to use a handheld phone whilst driving since 2003, though hands-free devices are still permitted. The Commons Transport Select Committee argues that using a hands-free device creates the same level risk of collision. The government require that where legal, drivers use phones safely, with one expert informing the committee that taking a hands-free call causes the same amount of distraction as being at the legal limit for alcohol blood level in England and Wales.

The cross-party group have called for public consultation regarding the law later this year. Though it should be noted that any change would not be applicable in Northern Ireland, where road safety police and legislation remains a delegated issue. In 2017, there were some 773 casualties on the roads in Britain, with 43 resulting in death and a further 135 resulting in serious injury, in crashes involving a mobile phone as a contributory factor.

A look to the future

Amid fears that hands-free kits are giving a misleading impression of safety while on the road, a ban may be imminent. And if you’re caught using one, it could mean three points on your license.

If the law were to be enforced, the punishment would be the same as using an actual phone at the wheel – a fine of up to £1,000 to coincide with those three points. The committee did acknowledge possible practical challenges to the criminalisation of hands-free phone use and the enforcement of the offence, but reiterated that was no reason to prohibit the ban. 

Chris Price