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EDITIONS
Monday, 28 October, 2002, 02:55 GMT
Drivers 'back ban on mobiles'
Driver using mobile phone
Most calls are to or from drivers' partners
Most drivers would support a ban on the use of mobile phones at the wheel but only a minority believe they drive badly while using their own handsets, a survey shows.

More than 90% of people questioned by the RAC motoring organisation said talking on a handheld phone while driving causes other road users to drive badly.


Proposals to ban hand-held phones will send a message that putting your own and other peoples' lives in danger is not acceptable

Ann Skey, RAC

But just 43% thought they themselves were unsafe when they did the same.

The RAC findings demonstrate the difficulties facing the government in its attempt to curb the use of mobile phones by motorists.

Despite the vast majority of motorists believing that the use of a hand-held mobile phone while driving is dangerous, it is not seen as the paramount distraction posing a danger to drivers.

The study reveals that 74% of motorists believe putting on make-up while driving is more dangerous and 72% think map reading is worse than using a hand-held mobile phone.

'Little impact'

Only a quarter of the people in the RAC's survey actually admitted to having telephone conversations while driving.

Most of their calls were to or from partners and family and usually unimportant.

RAC spokeswoman Ann Skey said: "It's clear that many of us are still complacent about the dangers of using a mobile phone while on the road.

"The government should make sure the ban is backed by properly resourced police traffic patrols which are the best way of ensuring that we all stick to the rules".

A quarter of drivers said they were under pressure to use their mobile phone while on the move, with 70% saying that the pressure came mainly from work.

However most motorists think that the proposed ban would not adversely affect them, with 80% saying it would have "very little" impact or "none at all".

Penalty

Asked about penalties for breaking the proposed ban, 57% of motorists said that either a fine or a fine with penalty points would be the appropriate way of dealing with offenders.

The government currently proposes the imposition of a fixed penalty notice, such as a 30, or a fine on conviction of up to 1,000.

The RAC recommends that motorists never use a hand-held mobile phone while driving.

Instead they should buy, fit and use a good hands-free system.

Other advice given to ensure safe driving involves using the phone's features - such as voice mail for incoming calls - to minimise distraction.

The RAC also advises motorists not to take or make calls when road, traffic or weather conditions are poor and to keep all calls as short as possible.

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 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Karen Hoggan
"Previous research has shown that drivers on the phone are four times more likely to have an accident"
See also:

02 Jul 02 | BMA Conference
17 Jul 01 | Health
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