Using Hand Held Mobile Phones

Mobile Phones At The Wheel

In a world of statistics and figures, (x amount of this, or y amount of that), the mobile phone in the car has delivered a vast array of numbers and statistics.

Some 75% of drivers have admitted to using a phone behind the wheel, however briefly, at some time or another.

Some 80% of drivers agree that the use of phones whilst driving should be banned. Figures for self-flagellating drivers are not available.

One thing for sure, is that phones are distracting, and therefore to be discouraged. The government made a discouragement statute in 2003, making its use whilst driving illegal, and misuse carrying a penalty of £60 (later £100) and three penalty points.

The trouble with this is, it is neither one thing or the other, a discouragement, yes, stopping it happening, not really.

Distractions whilst driving are legion. Children are a distraction, the radio, the CD player, the heater, everything that you can do behind the wheel that can take your eyes off the road for two seconds are a distraction, what else to legislate for.

Newspapers occasionally show stories of police taking spurious action against drivers, such as “man fined for eating sandwich while driving”, “woman driver fined for taking sip of water whilst waiting at traffic lights”, “car driver fined for lighting cigarette while on the move”.

We have all heard reports along these lines. As incredulous as they sound, they are actually indefensible from a distraction angle although often defensible in court – see for details.

There are other stories of course, where serious and tragic accidents have occurred through drivers using their mobile  phones. Where this has been proven, strict punishment quite rightly administered.

But what of the accidents caused while altering a sat-nav, or dialling up a hands free phone call?

The driver who uses a smartphone handset to access a map is liable for a penalty. How many reports has anyone read of drivers being punished for driving whilst consulting a paper map?

There is a proposal afoot to raise the fine for using mobile phones to £200 and six penalty points on the license for using a handheld device, (that’s phone or tablet), and for a second offence, a total driving ban.

The proposed penalties include that a driver who has only recently passed their test, will have their license revoked, and be forced to take the entire driving test again.

Laws, by their very nature, will be broken. Perhaps it’s time to turn to technology, and have vehicle manufacturers create and install intelligence that can differentiate between satellite navigation signals and phone signals.

This could then render phones inoperable unless the vehicle is stopped. Just a thought.