RE: A ban on hands-free devices | PH Footnote

RE: A ban on hands-free devices | PH Footnote

Tuesday 13th August

A ban on hands-free devices | PH Footnote

Legislation could kill the car hands-free device, but leave complicated infotainment systems unaffected



A report by the House of Commons’ Transport Select Committee has recommended banning the use of all mobile phones whilst driving, including hands-free devices. Chair of the committee, Labour MP Lilian Greenwood, said that the current law creates “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”.

The finding comes despite a recent High Court ruling which muddies the waters around what exactly constitutes use of a phone while driving. Builder Ramsey Barreto was found guilty of the offence after being spotted filming while passing the scene of a crash in North London. His conviction was later overturned, however, with Lady Justice Thirwall ruling that “the legislation does not prohibit all use of a mobile phone held while driving”. She said: “It prohibits driving while using a mobile phone or other device for calls and other interactive communication (and holding it at some stage during that process).”

Clearly a change in the law is needed, then, in order to reflect the ever-evolving way in which people use their smart devices - even the term ‘mobile phone’ seems an outdated one in 2019. But the MPs’ views raise an even bigger question than whether fiddling with a phone while driving is dangerous. If being distracted by the 5.5-inch screen of a smartphone is worthy of up to six points and a £200 fine, then what about the 17-inch display of a Tesla Model X?

Some manufacturers have attempted to persuade drivers to lock their phones away whilst behind the wheel with many, including Audi, placing the wireless charging pad within the armrest to ensure devices stay out of reach. The German marque’s latest interior refresh, however, has seen the climate controls shift to a secondary touch screen located directly beneath the infotainment display. Attempting to glance down at it to adjust the AC requires taking your eyes off the road for far longer than swiping to answer a call on a dash-mounted mobile.


Then there’s the case of cars like the VW Up. I thoroughly enjoyed my long-term GTI’s use of my smartphone in lieu of a built-in infotainment screen, its dash-top location even made it less distracting to use than the majority of factory-fitted systems. Under the Transport Committee’s recommendations, could I have found myself on the wrong side of the law for using my phone while driving, though?

Distracted driving is undoubtedly an issue, but modern motoring requires a far more nuanced approach to legislating against it than the simple vilification of mobile phones. With in-car tech becoming more and more prevalent, but fully-autonomous cars still realistically several years off, manufacturers need to act responsibly too. Designing a cabin that can’t be used without having to focus on a knee-height screen doesn’t seem to be a safety-first decision.

And when it comes to mobile phones themselves, well, prosecutions for breaking existing laws have declined by more than two-thirds since 2011, despite incidents involving drivers talking and texting having increased over the same period. Perhaps enforcing the laws we already have would be a good place to start, before rushing to implement any ill-conceived new ones.

Let us know of your thoughts on the matter below.

Author
Discussion

DBRacingGod

Original Poster:

532 posts

136 months

Tuesday 13th August
quotequote all
20,000+ fewer police since 2012 and, specifically, one third fewer traffic cops means the MPs can up the penalties as much as they like but the risk of being caught remains low and the public perception of the risk of being caught is also low.

Added to which, magistrates are often reluctant to take the word alone of a single-crewed officer over the denials of the miscreant. With no plans to double-crew and limited spread of effective dash cams on the police fleet things are not going to improve any time soon.

Jimbo89

70 posts

88 months

Tuesday 13th August
quotequote all
Ill concieved and irrational to be frank. I see more people obviously texting while driving now then I did before the ban on using phones while driving.

How would the police it, when almost all new cars have built in hands free devices? Especially considering they can't even seem to police the current laws.

I have to agree on infotainment controls as well, I've spent quite a bit of time with Land Rovers new dual screen system for climate controls etc. As quite a tall person having to adjust my eyeline enough to manage to alter the seat heating or something means taking my eyes off the road completely. With the complexity of them its not a split second look either. I found it too dangerous and it put me off buying a new RRS!

coded2112

9 posts

165 months

Tuesday 13th August
quotequote all
I have always wondered how people with huge Satnavs stuck to the windscreen get away without being prosecuted, not only is it distracting it blocks half your vision!

Blue62

3,733 posts

96 months

Tuesday 13th August
quotequote all
I have some sympathy with this, a person on the other end of the phone has no idea of the road conditions or the drivers situation, whereas a chatting passenger does.

My personal bug bear at the moment is dash cams and sat navs stuck on windscreens blocking the drivers view, I wish they'd do something about that!

Hoofy

68,920 posts

226 months

Tuesday 13th August
quotequote all
Could they deal with people facebooking while driving first??

Zirconia

32,020 posts

228 months

Tuesday 13th August
quotequote all
coded2112 said:
I have always wondered how people with huge Satnavs stuck to the windscreen get away without being prosecuted, not only is it distracting it blocks half your vision!
Add in a dash cam and the phone in a holder.

Not an unusual sight for me.

DanielSan

14,284 posts

111 months

Tuesday 13th August
quotequote all
So a handsfree device isn't acceptable, but there's no problem with this in a Tesla?


pb8g09

336 posts

13 months

Tuesday 13th August
quotequote all
At what point do people take some responsibility and learn that using a phone at the wheel is more likely to cause a serious accident or death than not using one?

It’s the same as dangerous driving, middle lane hogging and not using indicators. We seem to have to need to enforce all these rules, why are people so completely incapable of using any common sense or emotional intelligence anymore?

sidesauce

997 posts

162 months

Tuesday 13th August
quotequote all
Blue62 said:
a person on the other end of the phone has no idea of the road conditions or the drivers situation, whereas a chatting passenger does.
Not a great argument.

There are many, many situations where a chatting passenger would have no bearing on the situation in terms of helping the driver remain concentrated on the road and general surroundings as opposed to being on the end of a phone-line; in fact I can think of a few where passengers in a car would actually be more distracting (children bickering in the back of a car being the first one that comes to mind).

jakesmith

4,497 posts

115 months

Tuesday 13th August
quotequote all
How would they know if you’re on a hands free
How could they police it when people drive around holding phones and texting all the time

Ideas like this are so stupid and impractical it just makes the people who come up with them look out of touch with reality

LordGrover

30,769 posts

156 months

Tuesday 13th August
quotequote all
Lilian, not Gillian. rolleyes

Sebastian Tombs

1,315 posts

136 months

Tuesday 13th August
quotequote all
Whilst I am really not a fan of all these touchscreens in cars, the point about mobile phone use isn't the screen, which no matter what size is only distracting for the moments it takes to complete the intended task. It's the fact that people engaged in phone conversations are significantly (and sometimes completely) distracted from the business of driving whether or not the phone is being held.

It's not the fact that their eyes aren't on the road, so much as the fact that their minds aren't.

jakesmith

4,497 posts

115 months

Tuesday 13th August
quotequote all
Sebastian Tombs said:
Whilst I am really not a fan of all these touchscreens in cars, the point about mobile phone use isn't the screen, which no matter what size is only distracting for the moments it takes to complete the intended task. It's the fact that people engaged in phone conversations are significantly (and sometimes completely) distracted from the business of driving whether or not the phone is being held.

It's not the fact that their eyes aren't on the road, so much as the fact that their minds aren't.
Would you ban all talking in cars, ban children in cars? Adults can stop talking if circumstances require concentration on the road but that’s not always the case and isn’t with children. And audiobooks, talk radio? They require concentration

Dave Hedgehog

10,634 posts

148 months

Tuesday 13th August
quotequote all
DanielSan said:
So a handsfree device isn't acceptable, but there's no problem with this in a Tesla?

exactly


its utterly daft legislation formulated by more idiots with zero understanding of technology

millions of people use there smart phones as sat navs in cradles

also android auto and car play are also going to be illegal

technoluddites at the helm ...


still i guess we wont need to worry about using smartphones in cars if Comrade Corbyn bans private car ownership in 2030 lol

Edited by Dave Hedgehog on Tuesday 13th August 10:59

Earl of Petrol

111 posts

66 months

Tuesday 13th August
quotequote all
Anything that distracts a driver is unwelcome. Some things we can control or influence, some we can’t. Having seen a number of texting drivers in recent weeks it appears that there is no bounds to the arrogance and incompetence of (a few) drivers. To take them out of the equation we either have a massive increase in traffic police (not going to happen) or we use technology to block mobile signals whilst a vehicles ignition is switched on. The current obsession with connectivity in vehicles is not necessary. You are almost encouraged to use a mobile device whilst on the move. It’s all well and good until a wife/husband/parent gets the knock at the door.

Sebastian Tombs

1,315 posts

136 months

Tuesday 13th August
quotequote all
jakesmith said:
Would you ban all talking in cars, ban children in cars? Adults can stop talking if circumstances require concentration on the road but that’s not always the case and isn’t with children
As I don't like children and drive what is (in reality) a two seater, why not? ;-)

However, even with noise from children going on in the car, the research* is pretty clear that you're not as absent as you are on a phone call. The most significant thing is that you are much more distracted when preparing to speak or are speaking. The second factor is that there's something about a disembodied voice that requires more concentration and takes you away from the present. It requires active as opposed to passive listening.

V6 Pushfit

10,506 posts

54 months

Tuesday 13th August
quotequote all
Dave Hedgehog said:
exactly


its utterly daft legislation formulated by more idiots with zero understanding of technology

millions of people use there smart phones as sat navs in cradles

also android auto and car play are also going to be illegal

technoluddites at the helm ...
There's far more risk to drivers concentration by other means such as confusing and prolific road signage at junctions. To say that using a hands free phone is the same as drink driving is ridiculous.

Kev_Mk3

1,077 posts

39 months

Tuesday 13th August
quotequote all
Hoofy said:
Could they deal with people facebooking while driving first??
and istagramming and snap chatting.

Girl I work with has been done 3 times for the above and has now lost her licence due to it. She will do it again if required she does it all for the gram

Craikeybaby

9,029 posts

169 months

Tuesday 13th August
quotequote all
It sounds like a typical knee jerk reaction.

Dr Jekyll

17,728 posts

205 months

Tuesday 13th August
quotequote all
pb8g09 said:
At what point do people take some responsibility and learn that using a phone at the wheel is more likely to cause a serious accident or death than not using one?

It’s the same as dangerous driving, middle lane hogging and not using indicators. We seem to have to need to enforce all these rules, why are people so completely incapable of using any common sense or emotional intelligence anymore?
Incoming!