Tougher action is needed on mobile phone use in cars including extending the ban to hands-free devices, according to MPs in the UK.

In a new report the Transport Committee said using mobile phones while driving is dangerous, with potentially “catastrophic consequences” and cites evidence showing that using a hands-free phone creates the same risks of crashing.

The penalties for using a hand-held mobile phone while driving were increased in 2017 but the report called for these to be reviewed and potentially increased to make it clear there are serious consequences to being caught.

In 2017, there were 773 casualties, including 43 deaths and 135 serious injuries, in collisions where a driver using a mobile phone was a contributory factor. The number of people killed or seriously injured has risen steadily since 2011.  However, the rate of enforcement has plunged by more than two thirds since 2011.

“Despite the real risk of catastrophic consequences for themselves, their passengers and other road users, far too many drivers continue to break the law by using hand-held mobile phones,” said Lilian Greenwood MP, Chair of the Committee.

“If mobile phone use while driving is to become as socially unacceptable as drink driving much more effort needs to go into educating drivers about the risks and consequences of using a phone behind the wheel. Offenders also need to know there is a credible risk of being caught, and that there are serious consequences for being caught.

“There is also a misleading impression that hands-free use is safe. The reality is that any use of a phone distracts from a driver’s ability to pay full attention and the Government should consider extending the ban to reflect this.”

View the report