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OU researcher’s evidence to Transport Committee recommends “an outright ban of any kind of phone use by drivers”

Man using mobile phone whilst driving

An OU researcher is presenting evidence today (Wednesday 12 June) to the Transport Select Committee to recommend an outright ban of any kind of phone use by drivers.

Making a difference to road safety

Dr Gemma Briggs, Senior Lecturer in Psychology at the OU and Dr Graham Hole, Senior Lecturer in Psychology at the University of Sussex, have submitted evidence to the Transport Select Committee on the dangers of  mobile phone use by drivers; the adequacy of existing legislation and how education in this area could be improved. Dr Briggs will today offer expert advice to the committee on how the Department for Transport could address this significant road safety issue.

 Researcher recommendations

  • Change legislation to introduce an outright ban on any kind of phone use by drivers
  • Invest in technologies which both detect and deter illegal phone use
  • Re-introduce education courses for first-time offenders
  • Invest in public safety campaigns which highlight the dangers of phone use
  • Regulate car manufacturers so that technology is not described as ‘safe’ because it is hands-free

“Driver distraction is a significant problem for road safety with some estimates suggesting as many as 30% of crashes involve distraction of some kind,” said Dr Briggs. “Mobile phone use by drivers is a growing problem, particularly as younger generations born in the smartphone era become drivers. All of our proposed improvements could be effective in reducing road incidents related to distracted driving.”

Chair’s comment 

The Chair of the Transport Committee, Lilian Greenwood MP, said:

“Research shows that using a hand-held mobile phone impairs driving more than being above the drink drive limit. In 2017 mobile phone use was a contributory factor in collisions leading to 773 casualties, including 43 fatalities. This is clearly unacceptable.

“The written evidence submitted to our inquiry suggests the use of mobile phones while driving is an issue of real concern. It has been against the law to use a hand-held mobile phone while driving since 2003, but there is still a significant minority of drivers who flout the law and continue to use their mobile phone when they are driving. We welcome the response to this inquiry and we’re keen to explore some of the issues which have been raised with us. In this first session, we will be asking why so many drivers continue to break the law by using their phone while they are driving; whether the law in this area is fit for purpose; how the Government can better educate the public about the risks of driving while using a mobile phone; and how it can ensure the law can be enforced.”

The research will be presented at:

Evidence session: Road safety – mobile phones

9.45am on Wednesday 12 June: Committee Room 18, Palace of Westminster

Read other articles based on Dr Briggs’ research:

Read more about OU research in Psychology

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