Industry

Hands-free phone use whilst riding could become illegal

A committee of MPs in England and Wales move to propose banning the use of hands-free device whilst in charge of a vehicle, including motorbikes

USING a mobile phone through a hands-free device whilst in charge of a vehicle could become illegal in England and Wales, following recommendations by MPs to consider a changing the existing law.

The use of hand-held mobile phones whist driving was made illegal in 2003, prompting the shift towards hands-free devices, such as Bluetooth headsets or earpieces, which were permitted as a safer alternative.

However, sixteen years later the Commons Transport Select Committee has claimed hands-free devices create ‘the same risks of collision’ and that it is ‘misleading’ to suggest they are safe. 

According to the BBC, an expert told the committee taking a hands-free call was ‘essentially the same’ as being at the legal limit for alcohol in the blood in England and Wales. 

A public consultation on the proposal should be published by the end of 2019, the cross-party group said. Any change in the law applies only to England and Wales as the matter has been devolved in Scotland.

How would a change in the law affect bikers?

Bluetooth devices – either worn inside or integrated into the helmet – have long been the more popular choice for bikers than holding a handset for clear logistical reasons, but any change in the law would likely blanket cover all modes of transport.

This is likely to raise some debate amongst manufacturers, many of which offer a wide range of device and accessories designed to improve safe communication and interaction whilst riding. Only last month BMW launched its new 'Fit for All' Communication system and software update

Motorists caught using a handheld phone can face incurring six points on their licence and be fined £200. This has risen from the original penalty of three points and a fine of £100.

However, the same group of MPs recommend an increase in penalties as a further deterrent.

We’ve taken the debate to our Facebook page for opinion amongst our followers - CLICK HERE TO JOIN THE CONVERSATION

“Me and a friend use Bluetooth devices to chat whilst out on the bikes. They are not a distraction and are invaluable in warning of upcoming hazards. They are also great for notifying when safe to overtake, if a bit behind. They are a necessity for riding” – Keith Leslie

“As an instructor where will such legislation leave us when using radios and BT devices also I only use my BT system to enjoy some music as I ride same as in the car but how can you separate call received from your musical experience while riding with such a system, should the radio now be banned from the car too?” – Kevin Ayres

“Phone firmly in the pocket and only used to take pictures when I stop. Surely people can disconnect from the wider world for just a few short hours?” – John Jess

"It’s extremely useful for sat nav, have a mount for my phone but would rather hear it telling me than keep glancing down at a screen." - Nathan Scott

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