London, 19 Aug 2002.
For immediate release.

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Don't Phone Home
The Association of British Drivers has criticised plans to impose a total ban on the use of hand held mobile phones whilst driving.
Mobile phones are an essential part of modern life and business. Commerce in the United Kingdom will be seriously affected by this proposal.
 
ABD spokesman Nigel Humphries commented:
"If they succeed in banning the use of hand-held phones in the name of safety, what assurance do we have that they won't move to ban hands-free phones? And what next? Will they make changing radio stations illegal? Ban passengers from speaking to the driver?"
Since their introduction, mobile phones have enhanced safety by allowing drivers to contact the emergency services more quickly. On motorways, it is far safer for drivers seeing an incident to call the emergency services on a mobile phone than it is to stop on the hard shoulder.
 
While no doubt some mobile phone users act dangerously, thousands of others cause no problems. This proposed law will not affect those that read maps or newspapers while driving, or those that carry out many other inappropriate activities when they should be concentrating on their driving.
 
ABD Road Safety spokesman Mark McArthur-Christie said:
"Existing laws are more than adequate to allow the police to stop people who are driving in a dangerous manner. In recent years drivers have been prosecuted for drinking mineral water and eating chocolate bars, why do we need another law for phones? The proposed ban on phones is excessive and unenforceable. The problem is nowhere near what the government claims, Britain's roads are the safest in the world."
The ABD recognises that many drivers find the cost of a full hands-free kit too expensive, but considers that car manufacturers could virtually eliminate hand-held phone use by agreeing an international standard fitting for phones just as they have for radios, installing all wiring at the time of manufacture, and providing a slot on the dashboard into which any phone would fit via a simple adaptor.
 
Headsets are an inexpensive and efficient alternative, and the emerging Bluetooth technology provides for wireless headsets that will work with both mobile phones and land-lines.
 
Instead of the proposed ban, the ABD calls on the government to provide more places for drivers to stop safely in order to make and take calls. There should be more rest areas on motorways similar to those on the continent. The number of lay-bys on A and B roads needs to be massively increased, it is often possible to drive for many miles without finding anywhere safe to stop. If the ban is imposed before such improvements, it is likely to increase accidents as drivers may stop in unsafe places.
 
Public information films should be used to ensure all drivers understand that the driving must always come first. In addition, it should be made clear to everyone that when they are speaking to someone who is driving, even when using a hands-free phone, the driver may have to break off the conversation to concentrate on driving. The word "WAIT" should be publicised as a simple signal to tell the caller that the driver is busy.
 
ABD Chairman Brian Gregory said:
"Once again we find the government threatening drivers instead of educating them. This is not a pro-road safety law, it is yet another anti-driver law. It will serve only to incite more contempt for the law amongst drivers who are already plagued with oppressive regulations. As Winston Churchill once said: 'If you have ten thousand regulations, you destroy all respect for the law.'"

 
Notes for Editors