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Friday, 22 March, 2002, 10:57 GMT
Mobile driver 'ruined my life'
Susan Penney suffered multiple injuries
Susan Penney backs the campaign to ban mobiles
A mobile phone chat to set up a dinner date cost one man his life and Susan Penney her future.

Mrs Penney was in the passenger seat as she and her boss were driving back from a business appointment.

The phone rang - her employer, who was driving, answered.

Minutes later, with her boss still engrossed in a phone conversation, their car smashed into another vehicle.

She was talking to her boyfriend to arrange dinner

Susan Penney
"I want to see a total ban on hand-held mobiles in cars," said Mrs Penney, who suffered multiple injuries in the crash and has not worked since.

On 26 March 1998, Mrs Penney, of Grimsby, Lincolnshire, and her employer were travelling along the A16 in Lincolnshire - a bad road, she says.

When the phone rang, Mrs Penney's boss took it.

"She was talking to her boyfriend to arrange dinner that night," Mrs Penney told BBC News Online.

"But as she spoke, she increased her speed.

"And because the phone kept cutting out, she kept re-dialling to speak to him."

Concentration gone

Her boss pulled out to overtake and was still on the wrong side of the road as she went round a bend at about 70 mph (113 km/h) .

"I tried to warn her," Mrs Penney said, her voice shaking with emotion.

Hand-held mobiles should be totally banned

Susan Penney
"I said, 'Now would be a good time to move back over,' but her concentration was gone."

Mrs Penney tried to reach for the steering wheel - but too late.

The next thing she remembers is coming to an abrupt halt before passing out.

When she came round a short while later, she was in excruciating pain.

Her side of the car had taken the full impact of the collision.

Constant pain

The driver of the other car, a man in his 70s, was killed instantly.

Mrs Penney suffered broken feet, broken ribs, a smashed elbow, and two spinal fractures.

Her injuries mean she cannot work and finds even everyday chores, like washing, painful.

Her boss, who broke a foot in the crash, was given a one-year jail sentence for causing death by dangerous driving, and banned for two-and-a-half years.

"Hand-held mobiles should be totally banned," Mrs Penney concluded.

"I do not agree with hands-free either, only if really necessary."

See also:

21 Jan 02 | Media reports
Spain clamps down on dangerous driving
17 Jul 01 | Health
'Ban mobiles when driving'
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