The government are considering tougher penalties for mobile phone use whilst driving after research showed that it slowed a driver’s reactions more than drink or drugs.
Robert Goodwill, the road safety minister, said he would make a case to the Ministry of Justice for imposing tougher penalties. In addition, campaigners, including the Alliance of British Drivers, are now calling for the penalty to be raised to match the drink-driving punishment, which is an automatic year’s ban and a fine.
The study by the Transport Research Laboratory (TRL) found that a driver’s reaction times slowed by 46% when he or she was making a call on a hand-held mobile, by 37% when texting while driving and by 27% during hands-free calls. For those on the drink-drive limit of 80mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood, reaction times were reduced by 13%. For those who had used cannabis it was 21%. Both of these figures are clearly lower than the figures when phone use is concerned.
Robert Goodwill also called on police to increase their action on the menace stating that ‘the best deterrent for this kind of dangerous behaviour is the certainty of being detected.’ As it stands, mobile phone used hasn’t been a priority with the focus being more on drink-driving. With smartphones now owned by nearly three-quarters of adults, with emails, social networking and maps all adding to the temptation to use them, it is becoming increasingly important to crackdown on mobile use.