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BMA Conference Tuesday, 2 July, 2002, 16:55 GMT 17:55 UK
Doctors call for driving mobile ban
Mobile phones
Doctors want to see a ban
Doctors are urging the government to ban the use of mobile phones while driving.

The British Medical Association┐s annual conference in Harrogate heard how even using a hand-held phone could increase the risk of accidents.

Doctors quoted research from Canada, which compared drivers who did not use mobiles, with those who used hand-held phones and others who used hands-free.

Then they recorded the time of road accidents and looked at whether drivers were using the phones at the time.

It was found there was a substantial increase in the number of incidents at the times that mobile phones were being used, with no difference between the groups using hand-held or hands-free.


Motorists using mobile phones react much more slowly to hazards and road signs

Dr Joan Black, BMA
Dr Joan Black, a retired community paediatrician from the West Midlands, said a report buy the Transport Research Laboratory had also identified problems.

She said it had offered "conclusive" evidence of the dangers of using a mobile phone while driving.

Dr Black said: "Motorists using mobile phones react much more slowly to hazards and road signs. And their braking distance at 70 miles per hour is 46 feet longer than a normal driver, and 33 feet longer than a driver over the legal alcohol limit."

'Bad news'

She added: "Hands-free sets do not help, because drivers can be distracted by the quality of the signal, and do not focus on the road ahead.

"One imagines that the nature of the telephone conversation, such as bad news, conflict, or expressions of anger or rage can also be distracting."

Dr Black said the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents claimed drivers using mobile phones have already killed 17 people and that thousands of accidents take place that do not show in the official statistics.


After all, as doctors, our job is to save lives

Dr Michael Goodman, BMA
She said a recent survey had suggested 30% of British motorists had admitted using mobiles while driving, and that 35 countries, including Australia, Germany, Ireland and parts of the USA had already introduced a ban.

Dr Michael Goodman, a consultant gastroenterologist in Bury, Greater Manchester, told BBC News Online: "We have the evidence of the dangers.

"I think it should be illegal. Full stop."

He added: "We have done all sorts of things to improve road safety such as the introduction of compulsory seatbelts, speed cameras."

"After all, as doctors, our job is to save lives."

Full coverage of the BMA conference 2002

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17 Jul 01 | Health
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