Cell Phones and Drivers Don't Mix in UK

Dennis Faas's picture

Think you're safe using a cell phone behind the wheel? Maybe; clearly there are enough people out there employing such tactics that at least a few have become experts at balancing rush hour traffic and plans for dinner and/or a movie. Unfortunately for British drivers, not even especially refined multitasking skills will save them from a hefty fine and even jail time, if caught.

According to reports from across the pond, drivers caught talking on a cell phone could face both 24 months in prison and a fine as steep as five thousand pounds. That's over $10,000 American dollars, more than what most used vehicles are worth. It could force drivers in England to think twice; "is that call really worth the fine?"

Ken McDonald, director of public prosecutions, said "The revised policy ... responds to public concern about the dangers of driving while using a mobile phone and this means that a charge of dangerous driving will now be the starting point for this offence, where there is clear evidence that danger has been caused by its use." (Source: timesonline.co.uk)

McDonald's statement demonstrates that police will be looking for drivers who seem especially distracted by cell use behind the wheel. However, that's a difficult circumstance to judge, and could mean that just about anyone using a handset is deemed utterly and irreversibly distracted.

It's tough to tell how all of this will play out on Britain's road ways. It could mean a determined crackdown by police, or could perhaps lead to stiffer punishments for those caught on a cell phone during an accident -- especially those that prove fatal. Few will come to the defense of these individuals.

All in all, the measure is meant to "send the right message" to the United Kingdom's wheelmen and wheelwomen. Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety representative Rob Gifford summed it up best: "It reminds people that driving is complicated and requires full attention." (Source: globeandmail.com)

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