posted 4 years ago

Safety Charity: Use Technology To Stop Mobiles Working In Vehicles

Thousands Of Drivers Using Hand-Held Phones Behind The Wheel

Mobile phones should have a system that prevents them working in vehicles as they were illegally used by 1.6% of drivers in England and Scotland in 2014, the Institute of Advanced Motorists claims.

The figure comes courtesy of the Transport Research Laboratory and includes the motorists that held a mobile device – perhaps to check e-mail - and those that held one to their ear (both while driving).

Van drivers were the most frequent class of offender as 2.7% broke the law. This was followed by car drivers (1.4%), goods vehicle and lorry drivers (1.2%) then bus, coach and minibus drivers (0.4%). The worst by age was the 17 to 29 bracket, at 5.2%. Men offended more often than women with figures of 1.7% and 1.3%, respectively.

Results Not Surprising

The Institute of Advanced Motorists Director of Policy and Research, Neil Greig, explains: “The results are very disappointing but not at all surprising.” He theorised: “Campaigners routinely talk about the inherent dangers of the distraction caused by mobile phone usage, but drivers never believe they will be caught.”

Mr Grieg adds: “Technology has caused this problem, so it should come up with a solution too. There are phones that have sensors within them which detect the motion of a car, and can then immediately shut down calling and texting functions. This should be universal."

Bluetooth Not The Answer

Mr Grieg explains that Bluetooth devices that enable motorists to take calls hands-free are “no better” as taking a call is still a “major distraction”. He says: “Safe driving is everyone’s responsibility: drivers, those calling them, and most importantly those employing them. The horrendous figures for van users show that fleets and companies must have clear and consistent mobile phone policies that are enforced. If using a phone while driving is against company policy then disciplinary action must follow.”

The Solution

Mr Grieg claims that safety campaigns – such as those run by THINK! and the Department for Transport – need to be “revived and invigorated with stronger messages” such as “mobile phone usage at the wheel can kill – there’s no two ways about it.”

He adds: “Tackling mobile phone usage must be a government priority for 2015. People must have the fear of being caught increased as we believe this is the only viable deterrent. Mr Grieg's conclusion is that this approach “needs an increase in visible policing”.


I remember a case of a man who pleaded not guilty to driving without due car and attention after being caught shaving while driving. He told magistrates as he shaved every day of his adult life the action was so familiar and automatic his driving concentration was not altered or reduced in any way by doing so. He believed shaving while driving was a lot less distracting than it would be for a police driver talking on the radio, talking to a companion or even thinking about how to catch offenders. The magistrate agreed. The first day after it became an offence to use a phone while driving in a 2 minute walk alongside a main road I saw a lone police driver using a handheld radio and a bus driver drinking from a cup while driving. Shortly afterwards I was passed by a police car travelling the wrong way along a one-way street while the four occupants were laughing and having fun. The phrases "first, put your own house in order", "he who is without sin cast the first stone" and "take the moral high ground" come to mind. It is not more laws and regulation this country needs but better people with more common sense!

Many movies (mainly American)show drivers using cellphones while driving. I agree with all comments here. It would also be handy if, following an accident, the police could verify such use. I have seen so many examples of drivers with their phone to their ear while overtaking, cutting corners and so forth. How do we get their cellphone number for the police to verify? Can't they change the SIM card?

1.6% of drivers....This has to be some kind of joke.I drive for a living and notice people not only making calls but texting/checking messages etc in their laps totally oblivious to their surroundings for hundreds of yards at a time on UK motorways.Look around when waiting at lights in any major city tomorrow morning and you will probably notice most around you on the phone.

The figures/graphs show that people reduce their mobile use when legislation/fines come into effect but, when they realise there really isn't much chance of being caught, the usage starts to increase again. The last 5 years have been fairly steady, due to the number of 'hardcore' mobile users who are adamant they 'can't survive/do their job without using their 'phone whilst driving' and know how to hide their usage. Simply put, punishment should be far greater; after all, people have been killed by morons driving whilst using a mobile 'phone. Detection rates need to be increased; cant we have 'detector vans' (like the old TV license ones!) which can sense mobile 'phone radiation in a car, regardless if the perpetrator has 'hidden' the 'phone in their cupped hand, or between their legs...?

It has been for some time now to use a mobile phone while driving against the law, but how often do we see people using them while driving? The answer bloody often, the law is clearly not working to stop these ignorant drivers who only think of themselves and clearly do not care what risk they are putting themselves and other law abiding drivers at. MAYBE the time has come for using a mobile while driving to carry the same punishment as drink driving and be punishable with an automatic one year driving ban, it won't stop all of the ignorant uncaring drivers but it might make a lot of people stop using their mobiles while driving.

deal with the 1.6% make it worth it, if caught using a mobile phone illegaly they get a 1 year ban no ifs no buts make it clear it is not going to be tolerated anymore

Yes, anything to stop illegal mobile phone use.The trouble is that a lot of drivers these days are selfish and only think of themselves. Until real punishments are meted out for this and other motoring offenses nothing will change. If I had my way the punishment for putting other people's lives at risk would involve a half decent wall and a firing squad.

The Australian police have officers on motor cycles actively seeking out mobile phone user drivers and the fine is almost the equivalent of £1,000 plus points. If a similar penalty was applied in the UK it would make many people pause before using a 'phone at the wheel.

Research more than a decade go by insurance companies demonstrated that drivers were as much at risk of having an accident whilst using a HANDS-FREE phone as they were at the legal limit for alcohol. Perhaps therefore introducing a mandatory 12 month ban if caught using a hand held phone might be a start in educating the hard core of drivers who ignore the law. People do not seem to appreciate that driving at many situations in the UK is a full time occupation and any unnecessary distractions should be avoided. Most people simply cannot safely and effectively multi-task! Using a hands-free phone is not the answer to our inability to deal with this human weakness despite the law allowing it.

I am a member of "The Institute of Advanced Motorists" (Retired Senior Observer / Group Training Officer. Also retired 999 police trained blue light response driver. Part of IAM Advanced driver education to pass the IAM qualification is to be able to TALK whilst driving and still concentrate on your Road-craft skills. Police & Ambulance personnel *working alone) are trained Advanced driving "Road-craft" but also to us 2 way verbal communication techniques. Fire appliances usually have 2 members of staff in front seating. Hence driver of HGV class of vehicle is in full control (both hands). NOT this leads a question. Hands-free mobile telephones used for short information exchange is same as 999 drivers speaking whilst in control of 999 vehicles. (They stop talking "pause" if they require self Advanced awareness of instant changes in conditions of environment that they encounter during their progress along the highway. So why do we assume that any driver speaking on a hands-free mobile telephone might pose a higher risk than any driver speaking to 3 other persons in their vehicle traveling with them? Is it illegal to speak to passengers whilst a driver is in control of any vehicle. (bus companies place signs on platforms of buses advising passengers NOT to speak to the driver whilst vehicle is on motion. What about this situation >> A mother / father has their young child in the back of the car in a child seat. The child is indeed NOT causing a distraction in it's actions. Is it illegal for the Mother / father to speak to the young child during the journey? It's a grey area do pick and chose. However, If an accident occurs. Then consideration to DID speaking to others Either inside or away from the vehicle "Hand-free" to control the vehicle. Here again it is grey area to answer the question. Circumstances, Balanced with all drivers own responsibility to always be in total control of their vehicle is the deemed requirement of all drivers. I am interested in comments other might have.

Hands-free auto-answering installations that go through radio speakers have been available for a couple of decades now !

Great if phones could be stopped from working, but what about passengers, or the owner who's being chauffeur-driven?

The comments are valid with regard to handheld use but receiving hands free calls is an essential component of business life. If it seriously is believed that we should all stop to take calls the hard shoulder could become a very busy place. Are the protagonists also advocating the banning of mobile communication devices in Police Cars, Ambulances and Fire Engines?

A brilliant idea! Let's get this done asap and cut the accident rate.

Here's an idea. Why not deal severely with the 1.6% and leave the law abiding 98.4% alone!

As mentioned by Stephen Turvil, it should be possible for ass phone companies to detect if GPS enabled phones are moving at more than walking pace, and hold back texts or refuse to transmit texts. It is not agreed that use of hands free devices are equally dangerous as handheld for conversations. Playing music or listening to a radio in a moving vehicle is no more or less distracting than using a "Bluetoothed" phone.