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Mobile madness as drivers risk lives

PUBLISHED: 19:00 17 September 2002 | UPDATED: 12:40 03 March 2010

DRIVERS throughout Suffolk could be motoring timebombs as they risk lives all for the sake of a mobile telephone call.

Many motorists think little of answering the phone at the wheel, but an investigation by The Evening Star has shown they would be safer on the road if they were drunk.

DRIVERS throughout Suffolk could be motoring timebombs as they risk lives all for the sake of a mobile telephone call.

Many motorists think little of answering the phone at the wheel, but an investigation by The Evening Star has shown they would be safer on the road if they were drunk.

Scientists at the Transport Research Laboratory showed drivers had better reaction times under the influence of alcohol than with a phone at their ear.

Yet our photographer's pictures clearly show many drivers are making the wrong call when their mobile rings.

In the TRL study, drivers using a hand-held mobile phone travelled 45m when asked to slam the brakes on at 70mph – 50 per cent further than normal.

But someone over the legal limit covered only 35m – beating even the hands-free kit.

Police and Government safety experts have conducted campaigns to educate drivers about their potentially deadly phone use.

Suffolk Police spokesman Simon Stevens warned motorists could expect to be pulled over if police spotted them on the phone.

And he warned charges of driving without due care and attention could follow.

He said: "Don't do it. Pull over and stop you car.

"If you are driving along with a mobile phone clamped to your ear it's extremely difficult to concentrate on what you are doing.

"You run the risk of driving without due care and attention or causing an accident."

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents has fought a long battle for laws against using a mobile at the wheel – it is already completely illegal in more than 30 countries.

Kevin Clinton, RoSPA head of road safety said: "Research shows that drivers who use a mobile phone are significantly distracted and less able to concentrate on what is going on around them.

"They tend to drive closer to other vehicles, veer about in their lanes and their reaction times are slower.

"RoSPA, the Government and the police have tried to educate people about the dangers, but this does not seem to be working.

"A law will make it crystal clear to everyone. This will mean employers will know that their staff should not be expected to take, or make calls while driving."

Government guidelines are clearly against using mobile phones while driving.

And transport chiefs are now considering granting RoSPA's wishes by introducing a law banning all mobile use while at the wheel.

Current advice for drivers is not to use a hand-held phone while driving except in emergencies.

And even hands-free kits are not deemed to be safe. Government experts say using a hands-free set can still be a major distraction for drivers.

Weblinks

www.trl.co.uk

www.rospa.co.uk

www.dft.gov.uk

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