It may be illegal, but it does not prevent many drivers from using their phones without a hands-free kit to make calls or write text messages while driving. However, according to The Guardian newspaper, government ministers are proposing the introduction of a “drive safely” mode that prohibits most calls and texts to help reduce the number of incidents and injuries related to distracted driving.
Ministers, anxious to reduce the number of injuries and deaths linked to the use of cellphones while driving, called for an informal meeting with cellphone manufacturers in early 2017 to discuss adding such a mode in standard on new devices.
What is on offer?
Ministers proposed a ‘drive safely’ mode, similar to the ‘safe flight’ mode that many of us are already familiar with. While details are sparse on what exactly that would entail, it will likely prevent users from making or receiving calls or texts above a certain speed and limiting app usage when the mode is on. However, it is also likely that the mode will still allow the user to make calls to emergency services and accept calls from certain pre-designated numbers.
It is also proposed to automatically activate the mode if certain speeds are reached, using the phone’s GPS technology to determine the speed of the vehicle. However, it is difficult to imagine how such a mode would not be inadvertently activated when taking a train.
How would that work?
It is not yet clear how this would work if implemented. Flight Safe mode is currently activated by the user; if safe driving mode is activated in the same way, drivers should make the decision not to use the phone at the start of the journey.
Given that the use of mobile phones while driving has been illegal since 2003, and yet the use has increased from 8% to 31% as of 2014 (according to the RAC), would an opt-in mode alone suffice? for motorists to stop breaking the law?
This is not the only measure proposed; Ministers have already announced that the flat-rate fine and the flat-rate fine notice for using a phone without a hands-free setup would double, with violators fined Â£ 200 and six penalty points.
“We are determined to crack down on cell phone use while driving,” commented a representative of the Ministry of Transport. The Guardian. âOur plans to double the sentences for this serious crime should have an incredibly powerful deterrent effect. We will continue to explore what more can be done to combat this crime. “