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Jersey monitoring UK hands-free law change

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JERSEY will monitor any potential changes made in the UK regarding drivers using hands-free devices after a group of Westminster MPs said the government should consider banning them.

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Earlier this week, the Commons Transport Select Committee said current laws gave a misleading impression that having hands-free phone devices in cars was safe.

An expert told the committee they caused the same amount of distraction as being at the legal limit for alcohol blood level in England and Wales.

A consultation on MPs’ proposals will be published later this year, and Infrastructure Minister Kevin Lewis said that although there was no immediate plan to consider any changes, he would keep an eye on how things developed across the Channel.

He said: ‘It is not illegal currently to have a hands-free device. People now have phones that are connected to the car and they can answer that through flicking a switch.

‘MPs in the UK are calling for those hands-free devices to be looked at and possibly banned.

‘It is something we will be watching to see what happens, but we have no plans to ban anything at the moment.

‘We are keeping an eye on what happens in the UK.’

Currently the Road Traffic Jersey Law states that any person who is driving on a road while holding a telephone in any way while the vehicle is in motion is guilty of an offence.

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However, it is legal for a driver to use a mobile phone at the wheel if stationary. This is currently different to UK law where drivers can be prosecuted if they are stationary in traffic or at traffic lights.

One Islander wants that changed and has launched a petition in a bid to ban mobile phone use in cars completely.

Jen Norman’s petition, which went live this week, is calling on the law to be changed so mobile phones cannot be used while a car’s engine is running. She also wants the law to be extended to hands-free devices.

She said: ‘You see people all the time on phones when they are crawling in traffic and people on their phones while driving on a daily basis.

‘The standard of driving is so bad and people being on their phones while driving is just too dangerous.

‘I think there should be a blanket ban on all phone use in the car, but I don’t think enough people will sign the petition because phones are the king for some people, they can’t go 15 minutes without using it.’

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