Put the phone down!
Date: 27th Monday, March, 2017
Are we becoming a nation of amnesiacs? Judging by the constant use of phones in cars and lorries on our roads, I guess the answer must be ‘yes’. All the messages and laws restricting the use of mobiles are still being ignored by a minority. Perhaps it’s more a case of the ‘naughty dog’ syndrome when selective deafness and blindness is preferable to behaving as we should – safely. To mix metaphors, the proverbial ‘broken record’ and ‘told you so’ sentiment is becoming tiresome. Let’s face it – it’s time to acknowledge our collective responsibilities as road users and to put the phone down when that car or cab door shuts. But many continue to ignore the call for this perfectly reasonable behaviour.
The thought of switching off communications with the outside world will send shivers down the spines of thousands of people. The concept of not being able to respond immediately to calls and texts seems too much to take resulting in far too many people continuing to use mobile devices when driving. Considering the facts and the alarming statistics, it remains a big problem that can result in death. It doesn’t get any worse than that. Having perceived grey areas, such as, when usage is reasonable (e.g., hands-free) and when it’s not, brings out the boundary-pushing child who eventually pushes too far! As it stands, it is against the law to use a phone in a vehicle unless it’s handsfree. Even this activity, however, is questionable as the act of answering calls and the shift of concentration from the road to the caller cannot be safe practice. The law is quite clear on what is acceptable. It's illegal to use a handheld mobile when driving whether to make a call, follow a map, read a text or check social media - even if you’ve stopped at traffic lights or queuing in traffic. That’s clear! You can only use a handheld phone if you are safely parked or need to call 999 in an emergency and it’s unsafe or impractical to stop.
Now, if you are caught in the act . . . you’ll pay the price with six penalty points on your licence and a £200 fine. If you accumulate six points in the first two years after passing your test, you will lose your licence - period! If the use of a mobile constitutes careless driving you could be faced with disqualification, a large fine and up to two year’s imprisonment. These are a few reasons to sit up and pay attention! Ultimately, we will all be the victims of our selfish behaviour when legislation becomes the only answer to this issue. And that may result in a permanent ban on the operation of all devices with serious fines or worse. We (the driving community) just cannot be trusted to do what is sensible and consequently, we are then told what we can and cannot do. Sadly, this is human nature.
Despite the consequences people continue to take risks and this is all too common on our roads. Perhaps it’s time to ban the use of mobiles completely with even greater penalties for abusers? Maybe this is the only way we can have absolute clarity on the issue. Just consider the benefits. Peace and quiet, being in the moment and above all, being much safer.
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