THE mother of a teenager who died after he was involved in a collision on the M58, near Skelmersdale, caused by a driver on his mobile phone who crashed into the minibus in which he was travelling has welcomed the announcement the government is to tighten laws on the use of phones while driving.
Laws will be changed next year to ban drivers from using their phones to take photos or videos, scroll through playlists or play games.
Joe Cairns, 14, from Radcliffe in Greater Manchester, and 50-year-old Anne Kerr died when an HGV crashed into their school minibus in January 2019.
Joe had been a pupil at Pontville School in Ormskirk and Anne was a school support worker from Southport.
The driver of the HGV was jailed for eight years and 10 months after being convicted for dangerous driving. The driver had been checking Facebook on his phone before he crashed into the minibus.
Joe’s mother Stephwelcomed the latest government announcement.
She said on BBC Breakfast: “It has to be out there… how dangerous it is to use your phone while you are driving.
“It was a 45-minute journey and for 45 minutes that man (the driver) was on his phone on various applications - text messages, phone calls but also on social media… and was playing a game.
“He had a life, a whole beautiful life to lead and he hasn't got it anymore,” said Ms Cairns.
“Through somebody's choice that day, they took his life away.”
It is already illegal to text or make a phone call (other than in an emergency) using a hand-held device while driving.
This will mean anyone caught using their hand-held device while driving will face a £200 fixed penalty notice and six points on their licence.
Drivers will still be able to continue using a device ‘hands-free’ while driving, such as a sat-nav, if it’s secured in a cradle. They must, however, always take responsibility for their driving and can be charged with an offence if the police find them not to be in proper control of their vehicle.
The government will revise The Highway Code to explain the new measures. It will also be more precise about the fact that being stationary in traffic counts as driving, making it clear that hand-held mobile phone use at traffic lights or in motorway jams is illegal except in very limited circumstances.
There will be an exemption to the new law for drivers making a contactless payment using their mobile phone while stationary to ensure the law keeps pace with technology.
This exemption will cover, for example, places like a drive-through restaurant or a road toll, and will only apply when payment is being made with a card reader. It will not allow motorists to make general online payments while driving.
Mary Williams OBE, chief executive of Brake – the road safety charity, said: “Driver distraction can be deadly and using a hand-held phone at the wheel is never worth the risk.
“This important road safety decision by government, coinciding with Road Safety Week, is very welcomed.
“This news is particularly welcomed by families suffering bereavement and catastrophic injury due to drivers being distracted by phones. The theme for Road Safety Week is road safety heroes – we can all be road safety heroes by giving driving our full attention.”