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Hands-free kits may be banned

MPs bid to cut road death toll with tougher penalties for mobile phone usage and severe alcohol limits for new drivers

HANDS-FREE phones could be banned for drivers under new proposals from the parliamentary committee on road safety – who also called for an almost complete alcohol ban for young drivers.

Altogether the committee of 32 MPs has put forward 40 proposals to cut the road death toll but – coming after the debacle over the bid to remove speed trap warning signs – also included an easing of measures seen as heavy-handed, such as automatic point deduction for minor speed offences.

MPs called for heavier penalties for those who continue to drive using mobile phones – making it a three-point penalty rather than two – and working towards a ban on hands-free units where the driver has to touch a switch or button to talk. It wants car manufacturers to come up with voice-only units.

Saying alcohol was the main cause of fatal accidents, the MPs also targeted drink-driving but stopped short of demanding an outright ban for exceeding the blood-alcohol limit.

They, instead, reduced the allowable blood-alcohol limit for new drivers from the present 0.5g/l to 0.2.g/l. Drivers who have held a licence for less than three years will face penalties if they exceed this limit.

Anyone driving with more than 0.8g/l of alcohol will lose eight points from their 12-point licence instead of the present six.

Drivers groups welcomed the measure but victim support groups said it was just “symbolic” with Vincent Julé-Parade of Victimes et Citoyens telling Le Parisien newspaper: “In Great Britain the limit is 0.8g/l yet they have fewer road deaths because police checks are more severe and consistent.”

Coming just months after the government was forced to back-track on plans to withdraw speed trap warning signs [by replacing the cheap metal signs with expensive radar speed alerts] the MPs said the system of sanctions after minor speed offences should be looked at again. At present, too many points were being lost because of minor speed infringements.

It could mean that breaking the limit by less than 10kph would draw just a fine, with a second offence within six months costing a point off the licence.

Two-wheelers are not spared with the MPs calling for mandatory a contrôle technique on motorbikes and scooters above 125cc.

Related stories:
Mixed messages on speed cameras
Tougher penalties to cut road deaths
Driving instructor caught at 214kph

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