04/01/17 - Ministers to discuss mobile phone safe driving modes with manufacturers and providers:
Minsters will meet with mobile phone manufacturers and providers to urge them to introduce software which will put the brakes on in-car phone use.
The Government is worried that motorists are becoming increasingly distracted on the roads and a drive safe mode could allow drivers to make emergency calls only or accept calls from designated people.
There is also the possibility of automatically blocking the phone using GPS technology if certain speeds are reached.
An informal meeting in Whitehall is set to take place early next year.
The transport minister Lord Ahmad said the meeting would “consider safe drive modes, or other practical applications, when a person is driving”.
The RAC’s Report on Motoring 2016 identified that the problem is at “epidemic proportions” as almost half (48%) of motorists admitted to using a handheld phone at the wheel to talk, text or use other apps in the last year.
From spring 2017, drivers caught using a mobile phone behind the wheel will no longer be able to take a course to avoid getting points on their licence under tough new Government plans.
The crackdown on motorists caught using phones will also introduce tougher fines and points penalties. Points will go from three to six and the fine from £100 to £200.
Penalties for mobile phone use have been in place since 2003.
The RAC said that while technology can help tackle road safety, it is unlikely to be enough on its own.
The organisation is calling for “a comprehensive package of actions” to help crackdown on drivers who use their mobile phones behind the wheel.
RAC road safety spokesman Pete Williams said: “We need a comprehensive package of actions to tackle the problem at every level, from the stronger penalties due next year, to tougher enforcement, combined with a greater focus on engaging drivers themselves on the issue in an effort to make them want to change their own behaviour – and in turn make our roads safer.”
He added that many motorists also regularly use sat nav apps that are common in today’s smartphones, and this would need to be considered as part of any suggestions of a ‘lockdown’ on mobile phone functionality while driving.