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Last Updated: Tuesday, 30 November, 2004, 17:04 GMT
Widow backs car phone crackdown
Jill Davies
Jill Davies wants people to be aware of the danger of the offence
A widow whose husband was killed in an accident when a driver was using a handheld mobile phone has welcomed a crackdown on offenders.

Jill Davies said she backed proposals to raise the penalty for using a mobile phone while driving from 30 to 60, with three licence endorsement points.

"It is still very much a potential danger. I don't think people really realise this," she said.

A law change is part of the Road Safety Bill, unveiled on Tuesday.

The road safety measures are also expected to include tougher speeding penalties and measures against drink drivers.

Mrs Davies said she thought not enough people were aware of the risks of using a handheld mobile while driving.

"The fact that if you are involved in an accident and cause someone's death, you are liable to have a custodial sentence, I think that should be put forward really."

We've issued around 1,300 tickets in Northumbria since the change in legislation
Inspector Alistair Oates
Northumbria Police
Her husband Derek, 68, was killed instantly when a van smashed into his pick-up truck on a country road near Snods Edge, Northumberland, on 11 April last year.

Alan Milbanke, 32, had been talking to a work colleague for nearly two minutes when he lost control of his van which went onto the wrong side of the road.

He was jailed for three years and banned from driving for four - in what is believed to be the UK's first recorded case of death by dangerous driving using a mobile phone.

The move follows figures from the RAC suggesting use of mobile phones while driving has actually increased since a ban was introduced.

Cutting road accidents

Inspector Alistair Oates of Northumbria Police said police had been stopping drivers using phones as part of crackdown on Tuesday.

Patrol cars were parked at Barrack Road, in Newcastle, one of the busiest roads into the city.

Police were stopping offenders and warning them of the penalties they could now face.

Insp Oates said: "There obviously are people still doing this because we have taken it seriously and we've issued in Northumbria around 1,300 tickets since the change in legislation.

"But considering the numbers of people on the roads it seems to be perhaps a minority of people who choose to break the law," he said.

The Road Safety Bill is part of moves to reduce fatalities on British roads.

Ministers want to cut the number of people killed or seriously in road accidents by 40%, and by half for children, by 2010.

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