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Fri, 21 Dec 2007
Since using a hand held mobile phone when driving became a specific offence, more than 150,000 drivers have been prosecuted for it and had points deducted.

The UK Crown Prosecution Service has now published guidelines stating that drivers who are dangerously distracted by using a mobile phone behind the wheel should be prosecuted with the charge of 'dangerous driving', which carries a maximum penalty of two years in jail (assuming there is room for them in jail).

Previously, sentencing guidelines listed using a mobile phone while driving as an example of 'careless driving', which carries a maximum penalty of a £5,000 fine and penalty points. The new guidelines list "using a hand-held mobile phone or other hand-held electronic equipment when the driver was avoidably and dangerously distracted by that use" as an example of 'dangerous driving'.

The charge of dangerous driving is brought if a driver's standard of driving has fallen 'well below' what is expected of a careful and competent driver. The charge of careless driving is brought if driving has fallen 'below' what is expected of a careful and competent driver.

For more information, see the BBC website

Statistics apparently show that if you talk on a mobile phone while driving (hand-held or hands-free), you're four times as likely to crash and as impaired as a drink-driver.***

Dr Will Murray at Intereactive Driving Systems said: 'We suspect a lot of organisations will be twitching nervously, reviewing and tightening enforcement of their mobile phone polices again after what has been in the media today.

Now is the time to be thinking about:

Tightening and enforcing company policies limiting work and personal phone use while driving, including a disciplinary process for drivers using a hand held device.

Supplying 'engine on phone off' equipment that cannot be used when vehicles are in motion.

Ensuring drivers use voicemail or call diversion and stop regularly to check messages.

*** McEvoy, Stephenson, McCartt, Woodward, Hayworth, Palamara and Cercarelli, 'Role of mobile phones in motor vehicle crashes resulting in hospital attendance: a case-crossover study', University of Western Australia, British Medical Journal, 20.08.05,


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