In the past month, two incidents have infuriated me as a driver. Firstly, I got stuck behind a Transit Van travelling at 25 mph on the A134 near Crimplesham. When I finally managed to overtake, I saw that the driver was on his mobile 'phone, in fits of laughter, totally oblivious to other traffic on the road. The second incident was far more dangerous. I was driving along the Ryston Road when this van came speeding towards me, seemingly unaware that I was there. At the last moment, I swung the car onto the verge and nearly into the dyke. My last sight of the driver was of somebody animatedly shouting down his mobile 'phone.
There have been many tragic deaths due to people driving and being on their mobiles at the same time. The Transport Research Laboratory has recently published a report saying that those who drive whilst on the 'phone are a greater danger than those who drive whilst marginally over the drink-drive limit. The report also states that driving using "hands-free" 'phones is only slightly less hazardous. Yet the penalties for drink-driving are now quite Draconian and the mobile 'phone offences come under "driving carelessly" or "without due care and attention." These are treated less strongly in the Magistrates Courts yet carry just the same dangers, more in some cases.
I am not advocating the abolition of mobile telephones. When driving, they cane be most useful, whether it be advising the police of an accident or contacting the AA, RAC or whoever in the event of a breakdown. On two occasions, I have been most grateful for my mobile. However, it must be realised that the driver must stop to make a call; otherwise innocent lives are being put at risk.
This month (April), a Private Members Bill is being put before parliament to criminalise the use of mobile 'phones whilst driving. Let us hope that it succeeds and becomes law very quickly.