This week has seen MPs call for a hands-free device ban and a survey reveal that motorists want vaping at the wheel criminalised. But are these necessary, progressive steps in ensuring our safety or a knee-jerk reaction?
A committee of MPs has been informed that hands-free devices for mobile phones present the same risk as drink-driving. As a result, they want to investigate the possibility of introducing a general ban in England and Wales. In addition, a recent survey of 350 drivers discovered that 70% of them felt that vaping behind the wheel should also be banned. In other words, there’s a significant debate emerging around what we can, and can’t do, in our cars. But do bans really solve anything?
In early 2017, penalties for using a mobile phone whilst driving were significantly toughened. If you’re caught, you’ll be instantly fined £200 and left with six penalty points on your driving license. Despite this, the number of accidents caused by mobile phone-related distractions has increased and the number of prosecutions has dropped. This is even more alarming when we consider how much time and resources the government, local authorities and emergency services have spent on raising awareness of the risks. Motoring organisations like the AA have questioned how enforceable current rules are. But this is just the point, how can the interiors of some 38.4 million vehicles be monitored?
No one would deny that driving requires an immense amount of concentration. Driving distractions need only steal our attention for a few seconds to spell disaster. This hasn’t, however, stopped us from fiddling with radios, CDs and air conditioning controls for decades. In fact, the interiors of our cars are riddled with interactive buttons, levers and knobs. Whilst some automakers have attempted to reduce distractions, such as including CD players inside glove boxes, in-car technology has only become more prevalent. If we’re prepared to ban hands-free devices, will we stop car manufacturers from including voice commands for infotainment systems? If vaping is deemed to pose too grater risk, will we criminalise eating and drinking at the wheel? More importantly, if we do proceed with these, how will police forces be expected to enforce the new restrictions?
We can take the very understanding of driving distractions even further. Why is it acceptable for advertisers to litter roads with billboards with increasingly eye-catching and innovative designs? Surely these pose an enormous risk; they inherently require drivers take their eyes off of the road ahead of them. Fundamentally speaking, a driving distraction can consist of anything if the a driver is negligent enough. More importantly, there’s no reason to ban hands-free devices if we’re happy for billboards to be erected at the side of the nation’s busiest roads. You can’t legislate against commonsense issues. Even if the attempt is made, it’s practically impossible to enforce. Perhaps the answer simply lies with motoring culture and how we’re taught to approach the process from the very beginning…What do you think?
MPs Are Calling For A Hands-Free Phone Ban: https://www.autoservefleet.co.uk/latest-news/hands-free-phone-ban/
The Top Ten Driving Distractions: https://autoserve.co.uk/motoring-news/the-top-ten-driving-distractions/