At last the Government have made
using a handheld mobile phone whilst driving illegal. This new
offence will take effect from 1st December this year with offenders
fined £30 initially but this could rise to a maximum of
£1000 if the case is more serious and goes to court. Drivers
caught breaking the new law would also receive three penalty points
on their driving licence.
Under current laws there is no actual law specifically prohibiting
the use of mobiles while driving and as every biker has witnessed
many drivers are downright dangerous when chatting or texting
on their mobiles with only one hand on the wheel and their concentration
elsewhere! Just now drivers can only be prosecuted for using mobiles
if they fail to keep proper control of their vehicle and although
police can stop motorists and ask them to not to use a mobile
this is just not happening.
The government had announced last August that it was considering
the law change. Since then it has consulted the public and experts
on the proposal - with nearly 90% of responses in favour of a
ban including MAG and the BMF. Firstly the planned new law will
have to be approved by Parliament and then added to the Road Vehicles
(Construction and Use) Regulations.
Roads Safety Minister David Jamieson said yesterday: "Driving
whilst using a mobile phone is dangerous. We are all too familiar
with the sight of people driving along while holding and talking
on their mobile phones. Any driver will be distracted by a phone
call or text message.
"It affects the ability to concentrate and anticipate the
road ahead, putting the driver and other road users at risk. Our
decision to introduce this new offence will make the roads safer
for us all. Missing a call won't kill you - an accident quite
Mr Jamieson said that other types of behaviour, such as eating
and drinking while driving, could be dangerous and were covered
by general careless driving laws. But mobile phone calls posed
particular risks as they could often continue for 10 to 15 minutes,
The government says that research shows that people using a phone
while driving are four times more likely to have an accident and
warns users of hands-free phones that they still risk prosecution
for failing to have proper control of their vehicle or for careless
or reckless driving.
A survey by the RAC motoring organisation last year suggested
most drivers backed a handheld phone driving ban and head of road
safety for the AA motoring trust, Andrew Howard predicts the law
change would see phone driving 'plunge drastically'.
Conservative Shadow Transport Secretary Tim Collins has welcomed
any measures which will genuinely improve road safety but says
"There are a number of anomalies and gaps in this new policy.
Why should mobile phone be banned specifically when eating a sandwich
or reading a newspaper are not?"
Transport Research Laboratory studies have suggested using a
hand-held mobile is more dangerous than drink driving and the
practice is illegal in more than 30 countries.
The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (Rospa) have
welcomed the announcement and warned that thousands of accidents
have already been caused by people talking on the phone including
20 deaths where hands-free phones were being used in at least
two of those tragedies. Rospa have warned motorists not to swap
to hands-free sets and have called for these to be banned as well.
Rospa's head of road safety Kevin Clinton warns "We are
delighted to see a new law, but it will not have the impact we
have been hoping for if people switch to hands-free devices instead.
It is the telephone conversation that is the main problem. People
are drawn into the conversation and ignore what is happening on
the road around them."
Mr Clinton is worried that phone companies will use the handheld
phone ban for a market blitz on hands-free products.
However Sumit Biswas of mobile operator Vodafone UK replied "Drivers
should be aware that, just because it is legal to use a fixed,
hands-free mobile phone in a car, it does not necessarily mean
it is safe to do so."
Motorcyclists all over the country will be heaving a big sigh
of relief that hopefully thousands of accidents will now be avoided
and we can only hope that all these erratic, wayward cardrivers
weaving all over our roads will not revert to hands free kits
and continue to cause hassle!