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Last Updated: Monday, 17 November, 2003, 02:53 GMT
Mobile ban driven home by adverts
Driver using mobile phone
From 1 December, this could cost you 30
An advertising campaign is reminding people of the imminent ban on using mobile phones while driving.

The radio adverts point out that from 1 December, drivers caught using a hand-held mobile will be fined 30.

Certain hands-free mobile kits can still be used - which road safety and motoring groups have criticised.

"It is the conversation, not the holding of a phone, that is the biggest danger," said Mary Williams, chief executive of road safety charity Brake.

WHAT ARE THE NEW RULES?
Apply from 1 December
New offence of "using a hand-held phone while driving"
30 fixed penalty fine
Rising to up to 1,000 if the matter goes to court
Rising to up to 2,500 for drivers of vans, buses, coaches and lorries

Research has shown that drivers are four times more likely to have an accident if they drive and use a mobile phone.

Road safety minister David Jamieson said: "Driving while using a mobile phone is dangerous - you are risking your own life and those of other road users.

"It's hard to concentrate when you are doing two things at once and any driver will be distracted by a phone call or text message.

"I urge drivers to remember: missing a call won't kill you - an accident quite possibly could."

Hands-free controversy

But many psychologists say it is the conversation, rather than the act of using a phone, which distracts drivers.

Brake wants the government to make the use of hands-free phones by drivers an offence as well.

The AA Motoring Trust also warned drivers that talking on a hands-free phone while driving was also a big danger.

Missing a call won't kill you - an accident quite possibly could
Road Safety Minister David Jamieson

Brake's Mary Williams also accused mobile phone companies of "ruthlessly exploiting" the new ban to sell their hands-free kits.

"Phone companies are perhaps unwittingly placing profits before lives, by continuing to sell hands-free kits and using the ban on hand-held phones and driving as an advertising opportunity," she said.

"Hands-free kits are just as dangerous as hand-held kits."

Motorists can still be prosecuted for using a phone at the wheel before the new law comes into force - or a hands-free mobile afterwards - if they do not appear to be driving safely.

The law requires drivers to be in control of their vehicle at all times, which means that the police can act if a driver does not appear to be so, or is driving carelessly or dangerously.




WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's Tom Symonds
"Psychologists believe that it's holding the conversation that's the problem"



SEE ALSO:
The highway dialing code
10 Nov 03  |  Magazine
Drivers text and talk
22 Sep 03  |  Politics
Will a mobile phone ban make driving safer?
24 Jun 03  |  Have Your Say
Mobiles 'worse than drink-driving'
22 Mar 02  |  UK News
Mobile driver 'ruined my life'
22 Mar 02  |  UK News


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