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Last Updated: Friday, 27 June, 2003, 15:01 GMT 16:01 UK
Will a mobile phone ban make driving safer?
Have Your Say: Mobile phone ban
Using a handheld mobile phone while driving is to be banned by law.

Ministers say the new offence is to take effect from 1 December this year, with offenders fined 30 initially, or up to 1,000 if their case goes to court.

Those caught breaking the ban would also get three penalty points on their driving licences for each offence.

Under current laws motorists can only be prosecuted for using mobiles if they fail to keep proper control of their vehicle - there is no actual law specifically prohibiting the use of mobiles while driving.

Do you agree with the ban? Are the penalties too steep or too lenient? Should mobiles be banned elsewhere?


Thank you for your e-mails. This debate is now closed. The following comments reflect the balance of views we received:

Our bureaucrats have no comprehension of reality
John M, Greater London, UK
Another unenforceable law is set to join the thousands of others! Our bureaucrats have no comprehension of reality. Why on earth don't they consult the experts and realise that every car should be fitted with a reception/transmission blocking device operative while a car's engine is switched on?
John M, Greater London, UK

I agree with the ban. I was shocked the other day to see a bus driver, driving a double decker school bus while talking on his mobile phone. We don't have to wait until there's a serious accident before we ban the use of mobiles while driving
Ann, Wrexham UK

Yes it will. The number of people I have seen driving round bends while on the phone and changing gear is amazing. I ride a motorbike and the number of accidents I've seen because drivers were not paying attention is amazing. It will make it safer for all road users, But will there be the resources to enforce it with an already overstretched Police force?
Nick Wood, Ware, UK

There are lots of potential distractions when driving. Perhaps we should ban radios in cars, because sometimes they need to be turned on or off, CD-tape players, children - the list is endless. At least with properly installed hands free kits the driver doesn't need to take hands of the wheel to answer the call - it answers automatically.
Ruth, Oxfordshire

Fines should be much higher
Jenny, Mull, Scotland
About time! But fines should be much higher; penalty points awarded and the phone confiscated. Persistent offenders should be banned from having a mobile for a period of time and texters receive an immediate loss of licence for a year.
Jenny, Mull, Scotland

I agree, in part, with this. But will the police accept that people will pull in to the hard shoulder to carry out a phone call? I am not so sure. So, is this just another ploy to raise even more money through a law that they know full well will be ignored by most of the general public?
Russ,

Banning their use in vehicles itself will cause accidents
Paul, Leeds and Derby
I commute using the M1 and do 150 mile round trip every day. I see people on mobile phones, women doing their make-up, people reading maps and letters or eating, searching around on the floor or in the back of the vehicles and this happen in every lane. People will still use their phones and banning their use in vehicles itself will cause accidents because people will not only be distracted by conversations on the phone, but also by the need to watch out for the police. Improving the public transport system will get more people, like me, off the roads, and a reduction in traffic volume will cut the number of accidents.
Paul, Leeds and Derby

I agree with the sentiment of banning mobile use, but fear that a ban will have only limited effect. To fine people, you have to catch them, and as the numbers of traffic cops on our roads have dropped as the number of speed cameras has risen, the chance of being found out is becoming less and less by the day. And anyway, the proposed penalties are pitiful. Serial offenders will carry on regardless.
Bob Hill, Glasgow, UK

Let's stiffen the rules
Richard Hawley, Chelmsford UK
Let's stiffen the rules. Someone caught driving while using a phone - 100 fine and immediate phone confiscation and destruction ensuring that insurance can't be used and that phone replacement is at full cost to the guilty party. Let's not pussyfoot around. Let's start getting tough.
Richard Hawley, Chelmsford UK

It's not only holding mobile phones which is the problem, it's the loss of concentration which occurs while talking on a phone. It is not the same as talking to someone in person.
Judy, Japan

This is a sensible move
Simon, Hong Kong
Use of mobile phone while driving has already been banned in several countries including Hong Kong. Yes, this is a sensible move. However, the fine for a first offence should be at least 100 pounds.
Simon, Hong Kong

Not before time. Just yesterday morning I had to swerve to avoid a driver using his mobile on a roundabout.
JM, Deeside, N Wales

People on mobiles are a menace and should be banned. The fine of 30 pounds is a joke; start with 300 pounds and you just might get their attention.
Douglas Charnley, U.S.A.

Ban them now!
Jo, UK
Absolutely, and about time. I do not understand this preoccupation with mobile phones. I sometime see two friends walking down the street, both talking on their mobiles - what's the point? People are too busy looking busy with their phones to appreciate their friends, their surroundings, their meals etc. It's ridiculous. Ban them now!
Jo, UK

Like the inability to police the wearing of rear seat belts, this change will result in another "should not do" as opposed to making a real difference. Speed cameras are an easy catch requiring no effort to enforce a penalty, as are parking tickets. Anything requiring a police officer to prepare a case for prosecution is another matter entirely. Just take a look at the amount of smoky cars, red light travesties, middle lane hoggers and almost any other "motoring offence" and it will soon be realised that closest to the heart of the government is paying lip service.
Ian, Manchester, UK

A car requires two hands and two eyes to operate safely. Anything that breaks that simple rule makes you a liability to yourself and others.
WhiteShadow, UK

I suggest a more liberal approach. How about enforcing the use of car headsets and microphones, rather than a total ban? After all if we allow people in a car with a driver, then we also have to allow people to communicate, but safely. One needs both hands on the wheel, that's what the driving school ten to two rule is for.
C Collins-King, Uckfield,UK

How about a complete ban on all use of mobile phones? People find it difficult to work, eat or have a drink after work when there's a mobile in their pocket, let alone drive a car at 50 mph.
Obi, Manchester, England

What's wrong with hands-free mobile phones in automatics? You may as well ban talking to your passengers as that too must be a potential hazard... While we're at it ban radios and all forms of in-car-entertainment as they are all forms of inherent evils!! Get a grip on reality folks!!
Dave Peers, UK

A ban is a step in the right direction
Alastair Holland, UK/ Germany
It is certainly a good idea but I think the point most people have missed in this debate is perhaps the most obvious. The standard of driving is poor (example - both outer lanes on a motorway are for overtaking - hogging the middle lane creates bottlenecking and is dangerous). It's not much better in many other European countries. A good driver on a mobile is far safer than a poor driver at any time but the law has to be objective so a ban is a step in the right direction.
Alastair Holland, British living in Frankfurt, Germany

I'm totally in favour of banning hand held mobiles. However, when are we going to see a campaign along the lines of drink-driving campaigns aimed at making speeding socially unacceptable? People are very quick to condemn those who use mobile phones whilst regularly exceeding the speed limit themselves.
Nick Gibbins, Swindon, UK

You only have to follow a car where the driver is talking on a mobile phone, especially at junctions or roundabouts, to know that his/her awareness is noticeably reduced.
Paul, Swindon, UK

Following the logic that intense conversation undermines driving ability, there should also be a ban on driving with one's spouse.
Hugh B-S, France

Such a law is pretty much unenforceable
Jeff Turner, USA
Well, looking around in traffic one sees folks putting on make-up, drinking a Coke, or gobbling a burger. A law banning phone use might sound good but hardly addresses all of the activities people do in cars that distracts one from driving. Plus such a law is pretty much unenforceable. So, putting laws like this in seems like a total waste of time. Have the cops concentrate on things like ticketing people running red lights would contribute more to driving safety.
Jeff Turner, USA

Today I spent some time overlooking the A1 and at least 50 (yes 50) per cent of truck drivers were talking on mobile phones and very clearly in some cases not looking where they were driving their 42 tons; not what I would call a good idea for those in front of them.
Roger, Pontefract England

Good idea, yes - but who is going to do the catching? When was the last time you saw a phone-using car driver and a policeman in the same place?
John Carpenter, Woodhouse Eaves, England

Of course it will make driving safer. We should be looking at ways of constructing vehicles which make it impossible for mobiles to work inside them - maybe whilst the engine is turned on or while its moving, because hands free phones are little better in terms of how much distraction is caused to a driver when either receiving or making calls.
Colin Howard, Bracknell UK

Overall I agree with this new law, but will it still be OK to use your mobile when you're sitting in five miles of stationary traffic? I hope so!
Rich, Halesowen, West Midlands

The mobile phone ban should be justified by facts not hearsay
Bob Green, Harlow
Any new law inevitably restricts individual freedom. The mobile phone ban should be justified by facts not hearsay. Let's hear the evidence for it and all the other anti-motoring measures and legislation currently happening. It's just a smoke screen to take our minds off the real issues like mugging and burglary.
Bob Green, Harlow

This has to be welcomed, talking on mobiles whilst driving has to be one of the main reasons why the standard of driving is deteriorating so much in this country. The question has to be asked: How will it be policed? With traffic police continually being replaced by cameras, who will enforce this law? You only have to drive beyond a speed camera to see most traffic laws being broken with impunity all the time.
Neil, Liverpool

The ban is a good idea, but it won't make the roads much safer, only proper training will do that. Can we get a law banning people from hogging the middle lane next?
Allen, UK

The ban is a good idea in theory but, in common with most other rules of the road, will make not the slightest difference since there is no will on the part of the police for enforcement. I think mobiles should be banned in public places except in an emergency - but don't get me started on that one. I would settle for a note at point of sale indicating that the technology is now so sophisticated that it is no longer necessary to shout!
Pauline Tett, London

Some drivers are capable of driving while using a phone
Steve P, England
I'm not for or against, just incredulous. How can anyone believe the government is serious about safe driving? In theory if a driving test is passed at 17 there's no enforcement of an eyesight test until 70 years of age, let alone any assessment of driving ability. Some drivers are capable of driving while using a phone, drinking a can of Coke and eating a pasty and some can't even manage a car park at 5 mph, let alone change lanes at busy times in urban areas or at 70 mph on motorways, scary. How about banning kids in the back seat?
Steve P, England

I think this will make driving safer. When you have a phone in your hand whilst driving your mind is in two places - which is not clever. Whilst driving you want to be fully focused. No wonder insurance seems to be rocketing!
Vikash, Leicester

30 is a joke. Ban them immediately without the opportunity to appeal. Likewise for women who do make up or their hair, men who shave and the one idiot I have spotted driving in the outside lane of the M4 at about 90 mph, who was (hopefully) writing his own obituary on his laptop. I have the same opinion about drink drivers regardless of whether they have an accident or are pulled over randomly.
Michael, Hampshire

Last week I was in Norway being driven from the airport into the centre of Oslo when the driver received a text message. I was worried enough when he started to read it but became even more concerned when he started replying (whilst driving one handed along a motorway at 120 kph). Unfortunately when I suggested that this was unsafe he lost his ability to speak English, a language that he seemed to be fluent in ten minutes before. The scariest journey I've had. A definite yes to stronger deterrents.
Ian Collins, Sunbury, UK

The ban was brought into legislation here in Ireland last year
Tom Cosgrave, Dublin
It's a fantastic idea - drivers using mobile phones are a menace. The ban was brought into legislation here in Ireland last year, but it wasn't long before it was removed from the legislation - it was very hard to enforce. Hopefully, the UK, with larger police forces, will be able to enforce it better than the Irish police were.
Tom Cosgrave, Dublin, Ireland

What next, a ban talking to companions who in the car with you? And of course one assumes that the police will similarly be banned from talking on their radios whilst on the move in their cars and upon their motorbikes - surely a bit hypocritical if not ?!
Tony, Gatwick UK

Hands-free mobile phones are probably almost as dangerous as standard mobile phones - the level of distraction is certainly similar. Talking to a passenger is (perhaps surprisingly) less dangerous. First, the level of attention required to talk in person is less than on a phone. Second, conversations with a passenger are usually more relaxed (you are less likely to be discussing an urgent business deal or trying to convey technical information). Lastly, passengers are typically aware of the driving conditions. For example, most passengers will slow the pace of a conversation or pause when traffic gets busy or a junction is being approached.
Dr Thom Baguley, Loughborough

Yes, this will make driving safer. But the law should take circumstances into account, with a harsher conviction for texting, for instance (requiring eyes as well as one hand). And making the call should similarly be punished more harshly than receiving one. The most dangerous driving I have seen recently was a kid on a scooter in the rush-hour, texting. I did the only safe thing - took a diversion to avoid the inevitable carnage.
Tom, UK

Compared with the US, just about all UK fines and penalties are a joke. They are far too lenient. Until the punishment fits the crime, offenders will continue to flout the law. In most cases I do not believe that the mobile ban as proposed can be sufficiently implemented. I also think that it should be an offence for the mobile phone to be switched on in the car, unless there is a passenger present.
Ron Williams, Colorado Springs, USA

This is a rare example of road safety legislation actually tackling danger at source
Guy Chapman, Reading
This is a rare example of road safety legislation actually tackling danger at source. It may well reduce use of hand-held phones, and the new rules on sentencing for aggravating factors such as being on the phone may have an effect on use of hands-free kits as well. Sadly the fine is too small to have much effect, but the points may prove salutary. Maybe they will ban speeding next.
Guy Chapman, Reading, UK

It's about time. As a driver and user of a mobile, I do not see the need to hold conversations whilst driving. There is no way you are in control of your vehicle driving with one hand on the wheel and holding your phone in the other. The number of people I regularly see weaving about the road or holding up traffic because they can't change gear is unbelievable. Perhaps with this we will get a better idea of just how bad this situation is, and hopefully have some effect. An automatic ban would be more effective still.
Keith, Sunderland, UK

Shame there is no police presence on roads anymore, unless they put in phone cameras.
Tony, UK

Excellent idea that should have happened some time ago. The penalties for the numerous coach drivers I see using hand held mobiles should be even harsher.
Adrian Steel, Yateley, Hants.

It needs a BIG publicity campaign to ensure its success
Gary Copnall, Croydon
I have been hoping such a ban would be introduced since a friend of mine was seriously injured by a driver who was too busy talking on his mobile to see him. I only hope the police are able to enforce the new law. It needs a BIG publicity campaign to ensure its success.
Gary Copnall, Croydon, UK

I agree with the ban - using a handheld mobile phone while driving is just too dangerous. I have heard the excuse that work need to contact staff while on the move - in that case, the employer should either pay for a hands free set to be installed in an employees' car or change their contact policy.
Sasha Drennan, Horncastle, Lincolnshire

I'm never happy when I see that the driver behind me is using a hand-held mobile phone - I always wonder if they would stop in time if I had to brake in an emergency. Perhaps the scope of the legislation could be widened - I've seen people shaving, applying make-up, and even reading the paper whilst driving!
John, England

I am nursing a badly-bruised leg after being hit by a man trying unsuccessfully to negotiate a child's pushchair through a shopping centre while he chatted on his mobile phone. Imagine what he's like in a car...
Jeremy Rogers, Madrid, Spain

How well will it be enforced?
Neil, Birmingham
It's a good thing but like other so-called laws how well will it be enforced? While stuck on a bus in traffic in Sparkhill, Birmingham last week I did a quick check of how many drivers were wearing seat belts - around 50% of cars I saw in around 15 minutes were not. There was even an incident recently when a local coroner was involved in a car crash while not wearing a seatbelt!
Neil, Birmingham UK

I would like to see some of the fine revenue allocated back to the local police force to provide motivation to tackle this problem with the resources it merits.
Chris Boyne, Edinburgh

They should introduce even stiffer penalties for drivers of public transport caught using phones. Bus drivers have a responsibility for the safety of their passengers and using their phones when driving is a neglect of this duty. Plus who is that important they have to take the call now?
Gillian, UK

A ban is long overdue. You are already driving a machine which can kill. Why distract yourself from controlling it properly in order to have a chat with somebody you can always call back later when you have arrived at your destination. Texting whilst driving is even more dangerous in my opinion. But how do you police this?
Mark, Epsom, UK

I have been almost knocked off my scooter on many occasions by such distracted drivers
Paul, London
I commute into London Bridge every day by scooter. I would estimate that between 30-50%of the drivers in cars and other vehicles are using mobile phones while driving. I have even seen people trying to text and drive, their heads bobbing up and down to keep an eye on the traffic. It's very unnerving passing a vehicle where the driver is on a mobile as I am keenly aware that they are distracted and have very little sense of what is going on around them.

This in turn makes my own situation more dangerous as I have been almost knocked off my scooter on many occasions by such distracted drivers. I think the new law can only make things better. People would think twice about using one if their own license was at stake.
Paul, London UK

Nine months ago a woman swerved into me going around a round-about because she was gassing on the phone and not looking where she was going. However then insurance companies decided it was MY fault, and didn't take the mobile into consideration. Its an utter disgrace - I think 30 and three points is too little - people should be banned for 12 months - the same as drink driving. At the end of the day, if you kill someone, it doesn't matter whether it was due to drinking or careless driving.
Richard, Birmingham

Mobile phone use in cars will surely continue. We spend more time behind the wheel than ever before, just as we spend more time on the phone. Doing both at the same time is inevitable. Hopefully this law will encourage motor manufactures to build in true hands-free capability as standard. The technology is available to make it as safe as having a conversation with your passengers. Let's make building it into new cars the law too.
Lee Jackson, Watford, UK

I've witnessed some horrendous driving by mobile-using motorists
Chris Hendrie, London
As a motorcyclist, I'm delighted that this issue has finally been addressed. I've witnessed some horrendous driving by mobile-using motorists - no indication is a favourite; changing gear with one hand while holding the 'phone in the other is all too common, and the driver's attention is never fully on the road ahead while making a call. I am in no doubt that using a mobile phone while driving is far more dangerous than drink driving or speeding and hope this new law is enforced even more vigorously than that covering these offences.
Chris Hendrie, London, UK

Anything that means people pay more attention when they are driving should be welcomed. As most people who use a mobile will appreciate, the majority of calls are unnecessary and you can live without them; we certainly managed before mobiles.
Rae, UK

If you only have the use of one arm, you must have your car modified to give you proper control of the steering wheel. Therefore, driving with one hand on an unmodified steering wheel is not what the law considers to be 'in full control' of a vehicle.
Chris, Newcastle, UK

So often you see people trying to get round a bend or a roundabout with one hand while on the phone with the other - just on the edge of losing control - you can see the scared look on their faces I think people forget that cars are dangerous pieces of equipment - they treat them as extensions to their homes - music, phones etc and there is a false sense of security.
Jackie Wood, London

I want to know when these sorts of fines will apply to people smoking whilst driving
Matt Stannard, Herts
I think it's a good idea but I want to know when these sorts of fines will apply to people smoking whilst driving, if you do need to make a quick reaction you can drop your mobile without the risk setting light to yourself or your vehicle. Perhaps car manufacturers in future will develop a Bluetooth system enabling Bluetooth handsets to use the car stereo as a hands free kit.
Matt Stannard, Herts

I agree with it, the initial penalty is too lenient. Yes I'd like to see mobiles banned in all public buildings especially the pub - and the penalty if it goes off is you have to buy everyone in the house a pint.
Phil, England

Mobile phone use without a hands free kit, YES. But what different is talking to someone on a mobile with a hands free kit to talking to someone in the car? It's ridiculous!
Rob, UK

It's about time this was the case. It has always been my view that if you are holding your phone while driving cuts down on your ability to react to emergency situations. Last night I was followed by someone who was texting, and with a cigarette in the one hand in control of the car... I was very worried. This law is necessary.
Glenn Riley, Belper, Derbys, UK




SEE ALSO:
Drivers face mobile phone ban
24 Jun 03  |  Politics
Drivers in mobile phone warning
12 Mar 03  |  Wales
Drivers 'back ban on mobiles'
28 Oct 02  |  UK News
Should we ban mobiles on the road?
20 Aug 02  |  Breakfast
Mobiles 'worse than drink-driving'
22 Mar 02  |  UK News



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