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EDITIONS
Breakfast Tuesday, 20 August, 2002, 06:06 GMT 07:06 UK
Should we ban mobiles on the road?
Driver using mobile phone
Using a mobile has been compared to drink driving
The government has confirmed it's considering banning drivers from using mobile phones, even when they're stopped at traffic lights or stuck in a jam.

Motoring organisations are outraged - but many road safety campaigners argue it's the only way to prevent serious accidents.

We debated the proposals on Breakfast this morning. And we had a large number of e-mails on the subject too.

 Sheila Bunker
Sheila's son was killed by a motorist using a mobile
We talked first to some members of the public.

Then we heard from a woman whose son was knocked down and killed by a driver using a mobile phone.

And we also heard from the AA, who are against a ban on mobiles.


Sheila Bunker's son was knocked down as he crossed the road, by a motorist using a mobile phone.

"The driver initially said he wasn't on his mobile - but when the police checked his phone records, the line was open for twenty minutes," she told Breakfast this morning.

The driver was eventually given nine penalty points on his licence and fined 500.

"My son lost his life. That man failed to stop even to check. My son could have been alive. To me that was a deliberate act," she told us.

The AA believes that mobile phones are only part of the problem: there should be a review of the whole issue of driver distraction, whether it's reaching for a sweet while driving or swigging from a bottle of water.

"The best laws are those that self-enforce, like wearing seat belts or not drinking and driving" said the AA's Bert Massey.

"The vast majority of people obey those laws without the heavy handedness of the law."

Details

The law currently prosecutes motorists using mobiles only if they fail to keep proper control of their vehicle - there is no actual law specifically prohibiting the use of mobiles while driving.

Yet research suggests that people using mobile phones behind the wheel are four times more likely to have an accident than other motorists.

 Bert Morris, AA Policy Manager
The AA say smoking and applying make-up should also be banned
The new regulations would also target employers who let their employees use mobiles in company cars.

But the legislation would stop short of banning hands-free phones, which would still be permitted.

Consultation will take place over a 12-week period, with motoring organisations and road accident lobby groups among those taking part.

The new offence could leave drivers subject to a 30 fixed penalty or a conviction of up to 1,000.

The transport department said it estimated that any changes to regulations could see the issuing of 100,000 fixed penalty notices a year and about 5,000 prosecutions in court a year.

The number of drivers using mobiles has grown from 1.5% in November 2000 to 2.2% in April this year, according to the department.

Hands-free danger

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (Rospa) is backing efforts to make mobile phone driving a criminal offence.

It says mobile phone bans exist in 35 other countries and should be introduced in the UK.

Distance before braking response at 70mph
Normal driving - 31m
Drunk-driving - 35m
Using mobile - 45m
At its conference earlier this year the British Medical Association also called for a ban.

Members quoted research carried out in Canada which showed a substantial increase in the number of accidents at times when mobile phones were being used.

It also showed little difference in the potential danger of hands-free phones and mobiles.

TELL US WHAT YOU THINK To have your say, e-mail us at breakfasttv@bbc.co.uk

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 VOTE RESULTS
Should mobiles be banned at the wheel?

Yes
 83.39% 

No
 16.61% 

11502 Votes Cast

Results are indicative and may not reflect public opinion

See also:

02 Jul 02 | BMA Conference
17 Jul 01 | Health
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