This week, the Transport Committee held an evidence session to assess if the laws on using a mobile phone while driving are fit for purpose.

Following changes to legislation in 2017 there was an initial trend in fewer people offending and using mobile phones while driving. Unfortunately, bad habits in mobile phone use have begun to creep up. Using social media, taking photos and video’s while driving is a hugely concerning issue in younger drivers – many of which have never lived in a world without smart phones.

TRL’s Chief Scientist, Dr Shaun Helman, spoke to the Transport Committee around the risks of drivers using a mobile phone and presented crucial findings around the latest research.

  • Evidence shows that there is no difference in the extent of distraction when comparing hand-held phone use and hands-free phone use due to the cognitive distraction placed on the driver.
  • Using a mobile phone while driving, either hands free or hand-held, is the same as being just above the legal limit of alcohol in terms of distraction.
  • It is vital for current legislation to be updated to reflect advances in mobile phones and in-car technology.

However, changing legislation is not a complete solution; there is a need for better data, in-depth crash investigation work and a robust approach to enforcement and education to increase public perception of the true dangers associated with mobile phone use.

Watch the full Transport Committee evidence session online at Parliament TV.