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Tuesday, 17 July, 2001, 07:55 GMT 08:55 UK
'Ban mobiles when driving'

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) is renewing its calls for a ban on the use of mobile phones in cars.

The society says it knows of at least 16 deaths on British roads in which mobiles were implicated.

It wants the UK to follow the lead of the US state of New York where from December drivers will face being fined for driving and talking on a hand-held mobile at the same time.


There is currently no specific offence relating to mobile phones and driving and that means many motorists take a risk and use them

Kevin Clinton
It is thought this will spark similar legislation all over the US.

Some 37 other states have also taken up the idea, but as yet none has passed it.

The RoSPA campaign is backed by the family of 11-year-old Rebekka Hudd, who died after she was hit by a car driven by a man using a phone.

Rebekka, from Pucklechurch, near Bristol, died after she was hit by a four-wheel drive vehicle near her home in 1996.

David Powell, then 42 and from Bristol, was fined 250 and given six penalty points after he admitted careless driving in relation to Rebekka's death.

Her mother, Lynda Hudd said: "There should be a law to ban the use of mobile phones while driving so that other families do not have to suffer in the way that we have done."

Letter

RoSPA has written to Road Safety Minister David Jamieson calling for the change in the law.

The telecoms industry has persistently lobbied against restrictions arguing that there was no conclusive proof that using mobile phones will driving causes accidents.

But RoSPA's head of road safety Kevin Clinton said research showed that using a mobile phone - whether hand-held or hands-free - made drivers more likely to have an accident.

RoSPA's argument is that people's concentration is distracted when they are talking on a mobile, making them potentially hazardous on the road.

Mr Clinton said: "There is currently no specific offence relating to mobile phones and driving and that means many motorists take a risk and use them.

"New legislation would make it crystal clear that mobiles should be switched off when drivers are at the wheel."

Hands free

Simon Rockman, from What Mobile magazine, said he supported a ban on hands-held mobiles when driving, but not on hands-free sets.


If you ban phones completely and gave people no option to use a car kit then people would just carry on using phones clamped to their head, and that clearly is dangerous

Simon Rockman
He said: "I agree completely with the New York ruling. If you have a properly installed car kit with things like voice dial and you use all the right aids it is completely safe.

"If you ban phones completely and gave people no option to use a car kit then people would just carry on using phones clamped to their head, and that clearly is dangerous."

Last year Paul Browning, 36, from Kenley, Surrey, was composing a text message on his mobile phone when he veered off a road and fatally injured a pedestrian.

Paul Hammond, 24, from Hockley, Essex, was killed after being hit by Browning's heavy goods vehicle, laden with gas bottles, in a lay-by on the A13 at Pitsea, Essex.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Roger Vincent, of RoSPA, & Simon Rockman
Debate the merits of banning mobiles while driving
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