back to article National Safety Council seeks total* cell-phone driving ban

A powerful US lobbying group wants to ban the use of cell phones while driving - all cell phone use, including hands-free operation. The National Safety Council (NSC) - a 94-year-old, congressionally chartered non-profit organization with 55,000 member companies - released a statement today that calls upon private citizens to …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Dead Vulture

    It gets my vote

    see above (the life of human beings is far more important)

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ban Coming Here in the UK Too!

    The recent proposals on a new careless driving law include penalising drivers for using hands-free phones (though how a policeman will know...), so beware!

  3. Hombre sin nombre

    How long will it be before

    passengers are banned? They can be several times more distracting than a phone call.

  4. Bryan Reed

    Nanny state? Are you serious?

    The "nanny state" comment totally misses the point.

    I don't care if someone does something stupid and gets hurt. I do care if someone does something stupid and hurts other people. As someone who bicycles on city streets and frequently has to slam on the brakes to avoid getting crushed under the vehicles of morons talking on the phone, I applaud this development.

  5. raving angry loony

    works for me

    Driving is a privilege, not a right. Let the assholes hurt themselves, no skin off my nose. However, if said idiots want to make my life more risky, then I say cut them off at the knees before they do so. The case for the dangers of mobile phone use increasing driving risk - especially risk to others - has been made. It's time to take action and reduce that risk. Mobile use in the car should be treated the same as a DUI.

    Any driver found to have been on the phone when they've been in a prang should be treated the same as if they were driving drunk and have their license withdrawn. Instead of not even being charged, as was the case with the dozy bint who wrecked my leg because she was too busy waving at her phone to pay attention to the fucking road ahead of her.

    A "nanny state" is about the state protecting people from themselves. This is about the state doing its job for once, and protecting me from self-important assholes who put their phone calls ahead of my life. I note that the author is from a state where people regularly shoot each other on the highway, and they seem to find this to be "normal". I guess this tends to skew your perspective somewhat.

  6. Dave Silver badge

    So people will do what, then?

    Blathering away on a mobile when driving is unnecessary- but surely making a short hands-free call whilst driving (e.g "I'm stuck in traffic, home in an hour" or "What's the name of your street again?") can be safer than pulling in, parking and then pulling out again. It's certainly more fuel efficient! Was a risk assement on the alternatives to taking a call (including the resulting preoccupation with any untaken call) even a part of this study?

    And that is before we consider RAC men, policemen, delivery drivers and others who have need telecommunications.

    Who here hasn't had some numpty pull out on them from a parked position? I'm sure you have, Mr Reed. Though sympathetic to your two-wheeled situation, I don't think banning all calls is the answer to all your woes - in fact, it could result in much hurried witless parking in bike lanes, bus stops and the like, with cars crossing cyclists' routes twice in the process.

  7. Trix

    Passengers aren't as distracting

    Actually, there has been more than one study done that shows that passengers are less distracting than a mobile call. Firstly, there are more pauses in a conversation when someone is right there with you compared to when you're talking on a phone. Second, if the driving conditions become more hazardous, normally the passengers will shut up - or tell you to pay attention to the road! They have a vested interest in your not crashing, unlike the person you're chatting to on the phone. Also, dealing with the device, even hands-free, is another (slighter)distraction. There are any number of accidents caused by people adjusting their radios, even.

    That being said, no-one seemed to have these concerns about CB radios. Is there an intrinsic difference there?

  8. Anonymous Coward

    Isn't sticking a coffee cup in your face dangerous

    What about drinking and eating.

    I am sure that putting a massive coffee cup up to your face and drinking makes it real hard to see what you are doing and feeding your face or doing makeup or ....

    What about listening to the radio or looking out the windows of the car - all that distraction.

    These are just retarded old farts that don't know their arse from their elbow's.

    What they need to do is police the traffic better and get some of these backwards old idiots off the road.

    I watched one old fool turn his car in front of on coming traffic and no police were around.

    What about these women that are busy screaming at their horrible little children. Ban those nasty little urchin's from cars, keep them in a cupboard or tie them to a bed.

    What about the women that think that they can do multiple tasks and drive 30 miles over the speed limit while trying to do them or think that it's okay to do 100mph in a 55 mph zone because they want to get past everyone before it returns to single lane traffic and take the side of a vehicle off in the process and then blame the other driver for not seeing them.

    Heck - Ban women drivers, old drivers, ban everyone and keep the roads clear. Get those horses and buggies out or everyone should drive in golf carts limited to 10mph. Better still get onto bicycles.

    as for Bryan Reed - your are a moron for not looking and riding your cycle defensively. You are as much to blame as the drivers.

    First time it was their fault - after that it is your fault for not watching for them.

  9. Heff
    Thumb Down


    So being stopped for not wearing a seatbelt when Im wearing one will now be replaced by talking on a handsfree kit when im yelling along with the radio.

    Awesome. I can look forward to me and mine getting jacked for another impossible-to-dispute bullshit fine. Huzzah, what _wonderous_ news.

    Fail. For a safety implementation its pointless: passengers, the radio, the ham sammich in your passenger seat now your footwell godddammit, the girl with the nice pair of legs you just Ohmygodwheredidthatassholecomefrom.

    You cant ban dipshit women who apply makeup cruising at 50 with the other traffic. you cant ban parents who bring screaming children in the car with them and spend half their time looking at the road and the other half looking behind them, yelling at their kids. you cant ban loud radios and the people that tilt their head back and scream aerosmith lyrics and make turns at the same time, or travelling suits with one eye on the road and the other on the FT.

    Bottom line is, some people think they can multitask anything into driving. if you take away phones, it wont make a lot of difference. you're just removing one of the hundred things they can do whilst driving/mounting the kerb unexpectedly/merging into oncoming traffic.

    also :

    @ Bryan Reed : I used to cycle in london; Dipshit drivers didnt rise in frequency with cellphones, they were always there, being blind, useless Organ-harvester wagons.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Are these drivers SOOOO important that they have to have these damned things stuck to their ear holes while they're driving?

    How the hell did we survive before mobile phones? Oh yes, we just did without. I just refuse to have one. I don't want to be contactable every minute of every day.

    Also @Trix - spot on. Passengers are there with you and know when to shut up when the going gets tough. I've been in a car where the driver was trying to hold a conference call with a group of others on his handsfree kit. You can hear the awkwardness from the other end when he stopped talking to turn a dodgy corner or negotiate a junction. "Have we lost you? Are you still there?" "Yes of course I'm f**king still here, I just don't want to kill myself!!!!"

    Sorry - I do get a bit carried away....

  11. Robert E A Harvey
    Thumb Up

    Turn them off

    I work for a multinational, and one of the directors has recently said that he doesn't want us using the phone while driving, even after they paid to have hands-free kit fitted.

    I've taken to turning mine off. If it could be set to 'text only' that would be fine, I could here it chime and then stop when convenient to read what they have to say. Perhaps we should campaign for all new phones to have a 'text only' mode

  12. Scott
    Thumb Down


    As the article mentions it is currently illegal in California to make a cell phone call in a car w/o a headset (has been since June). That certainly hasn't stopped anyone, so how exactly does passing yet another unenforceable law help remedy the situation?

    I won't argue people using handsets or texting in the car are a danger, but I'm not convinced that there is the same level of risk when one uses a headset. Given the lack of enforcement of current regulations, the morons who are the most dangerous aren't likely to be deterred.

  13. Vladimir

    Pissed-off yank replies.

    My take from this side of the pond is:

    1) nanny-state rides again. Legislators are easily persuaded to protect King and country...or maybe Obama and yo mamma. It's easy vote-getting. Little opposition. Who wants to protect druggies, drunks, perverts, reckless/selfish drivers?

    We forget how easy it is to find ourself on the wrong side of the US and THEM line. Do Rush Limbaugh's painkillers put him on the "druggie" side of that line? One drink too many is all it takes to join the "drunks." Unless you ID every date, one night with a teenager forever brands you a perv.

    I think my 20+ years of driving without accident means I drive well. But I bet dimes to dollars that someone sharing the road with me thinks I'm an inconsiderate jerk. Probably every day I drive.

    It's just too easy to let US vs. THEM lead to bad, useless, draconian legislation. The U.S. seems hell-bent on it.

    2) money $ money $ money $ money $ money $ money $ money $ money $ money $ money $ money $ money $ money.

    Just think of all the revenue that can be generated from cell-phone tickets! Look at this country's track record in other areas:

    Seatbelt tickets started as add-on fees if the cop pulled you over for something else. (Something LEGITIMATE, in my opinion.) Now a seat-belt is reason enough to pull you over.

    Cracking down on dead-beat dads was never about the kids. It was about the state recovery services charging a percentage off the top of every wage garnishment and state-arranged support payment.

    Can you really believe photo-cop is about increased safety rather than revenue? Statistics published in Car And Driver show that cameras installed at intersections did nothing to reduce accidents. Many cities showed INCREASED accidents at these intersections...traced to changed light timing after the new revenue stream was in place. (Install camera, shorten yellow light, encourage violation, and VIOLA lots more money for the city.)


    Most important is to let your senator or representative know how you want him/her to vote.

    I think Dave and Raving Loony are on the right track. The cellphone is no more sinister than alcohol or music or conversation. Some can multitask well enough, others can't. Drivers should be presumed innocent (capable) until they prove otherwise, just like a DUI.

    How difficult is it to check usage logs on a phone at the accident/ticket scene? I have no problem with banning cellphone use for those whose driving record indicates a problem. Anything more is overreaction.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    The sooner this law comes into the UK the better.

    As the police can't be everywhere at once watching out for the people who think that their sales call or dinner date is more important than someone else's life, there should be some form of public reporting tool available. Car registration and the approximate location and time should do it. Even if the police followed up 1%, weeded out the hoaxes and malicious calls, requested the phone records, and prosecuted accordingly, the deterrent would make a difference.

    And yes I do have a vested interest - seven years later I still have back and posture problems after a head-on with someone on my side of the road on a blind bend while they were talking on their phone. That sort of experience, quite frankly, tends to give you a fairly hardened attitude on this subject.

  15. s
    Thumb Down

    Why more legislation...

    There is legislation for dangerous driving. Why not use that if someone is driving dangerously?

    I have a phone built into my car (in the factory) I can make and answer calls from the steering wheel. If i need to make a call, or take a call I do (although not very often). If I need to concentrate I stop talking and stop listening - the same as if I have a passenger in the car with me. Those who don't are going to cause accidents whether on the phone or not as the don't appriciate the concentration needed to drive.

    Making laws like this are a pointless waste of time, when we have other laws already in place to stop bad driving.

  16. Bad Beaver
    Thumb Up


    As people say, "drivers" are doing anything but concentrating on the road, so ban the driver's use of the phone in a moving vehicle. That way, they can focus on their makeup, changing diapers, shouting at passengers, daydreaming or masturbation, and will not be FURTHER distracted by the needs of a remote conversation. How to enforce sufficiently? Who cares, just make it really, really expensive to get caught.

  17. Greg

    Oh give over

    Holding a phone up to your ear and talking is dangerous, yes, and I believe still legal in America? (Could be wrong, apologies if I am.) But I've got a wee Bluetooth headset. If I want to call someone, I tap it and say their name. HOLY SHIT, what a dangerous thing to do! That's far more dangerous than switching settings on my GPS system or songs on my DAP, or changing the radio, etc, etc. And once I'm connected to the call, I'm perfectly capable of talking and not smashing into people. If a situation arises that requires more concentration, I simply stop talking, and the person on the other end, not being a moron, waits for me to come back.

    I can think of a gazillion things more dangerous on the roads than hands-free talking to someone.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Bryan Reed get a life

    I've also cycled on the road and been knocked off by a car driver - before mobile phones were invented. He didn't check his mirror before he turned right. But then again, I was flying up from behind at about 30mph overtaking the traffic queue.

    Cycling is extremely dangerous! Deal with it! Stop trying to blame everyone else. My father was knocked off his bike and broke both his arms... again, before mobile phones existed.

    People like Bryan Reed hate everyone else on the road. Even as a pedestrian I am used to having to dodge out of the way of hysterical cyclists appearing out of nowhere, bowling along at twice the speed of everyone else unable to stop, waving their fist in the air and shouting abuse at any pedestrian who dares pop a foot over the kerb line. Who do these cyclists think they are? Speeding along the road full of hormones wearing tight spandex, a helmet, a mask and those terrible 'asshole' glasses? This ain't Tour de' France you know. Of all the road users (pedestrians included) cyclists certainly seem to rate themselves pretty highly. They appear to believe that they occupy some sort of higher moral platform and that they are therefore entitled to treat every other road user with utter contempt.

    Fewer people on the road need cyclists than they do mobile phones. Might as well just ban cyclists instead.

    Weaving in and out of the traffic to get to the front of the queue. Then getting to the front and either ignoring the red traffic signals and carrying on regardless or putting themselves first and pulling in front of other people waiting in cars at the front of the queue. Jumping the queue is never acceptable anywhere else... i.e. using a pair of roller skates does not mean you can roll past other standing customers to the front of a ticket queue just because your using green energy? So why is it ok if you're a cyclist? I've started rolling my car right up to the line or even maybe a little over the line so cyclists can't weave up the side and then move over and stop in front of me. It's not only the rudeness either... when the lights turn green you actually want to move away from the line... not sit there staring up some spandex asshole as it pumps through the much too stiff gearing on the sports bike to try and get back up to speed. Nope, superior cyclists can bugger off.

    Paris, because she agrees with spandex and she likes to ride but she is much more polite about it.

  19. Jonathan Schofield

    This'll stir it up!

    I am of the opinion that if you don't have the brain capacity to talk and drive at the same time then perhaps you should do neither.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Take responsibility for your own safety

    Just because the 'law' says its illegal to use the phone doesn't mean people wont use them.

    Anecdotal i know, i was on a motorway when a car started to drive very close to me in crap drizzly weather, I noticed that the person was constantly glancing down as if she was texting, i got the hell out of the way. Within less than a mile she had ploughed into the back of a breaking car.

  21. Edwin

    Good plan

    To be honest, I would whine and moan about this if it came to where I live.

    But - let's be honest - it's a good idea.

    It's clear Rik hasn't yet left the safety of mummy's house and only just avoided being broadsided by a git in a Cayenne with a phone glued to his ear, but to the rest of us in the real world, this would be pretty good.

    Rik - you need to understand that, while nobody likes to have a privilege taken away, it sometimes needs to be taken away for the safety of society as a whole.

    If/when you have children, you'll understand.

  22. David M

    Correlation does not imply causation

    Isn't it just as likely that there are simply a significant number of bad drivers on the road? Such drivers are likely to

    (a) have most of the accidents, and

    (b) be on the phone a lot.

    So the statistics would show a large correlation between accidents and mobile-phone use, but stopping the phone use won't help because they will still be bad drivers.

    One could use similar logic to show that most accidents involve use of a steering wheel, so we should ban steering wheels.

  23. Andy Worth

    Re:Passengers aren't as distracting

    Well, everyone likes to twist figures to their own devices (so I take most with a pinch of salt) but it has been shown that on average a passenger makes you less likely to crash than driving alone. With the exception of young (mostly) adult men trying to impress, most people drive more considerately and carefully when they have a passenger on board.

    I don't quite buy into how they will enforce this though. Does this mean that I might potentially be stopped for talking to myself, singing to the radio or giving a running commentary on how shit other peoples driving is? How would they be able to prove I was on the phone without first arresting me, as my call logs are my own business so they couldn't demand to see them? In fact all I would have to do as they got out of their car is clear my recent call list on my phone and they would have to go to the phone company to get proof.

    Just for information I never use my mobile in the car and refuse to answer when I'm driving, but I still think this is a stupid law which cannot be enforced, should they change it. Perhaps instead they should start looking at the people on the road who never should have been given a licence, because they plainly are incapable of controlling a car.

  24. D@v3

    @ Heff


  25. cdilla
    Thumb Up

    Good idea

    The sooner it's implemented here the better. Many many investigations over the past few years have shown talking on the phone to increase the likelyhood of accidents. Do a search at New Scientist and you'll find many articles including...

    "Hands-free cellphones carry car crash risk too"

    "Hands-free phones not risk-free for drivers"

    "Hands-free kits do not reduce crash risk"

    "Cellphones worse than drink-driving"

    Not policeable? I don't think that's an issue.

    Car's fitted with handsfree should fail MOT's.

    Any car with a live phone in it could automatically detected by roadside or mobile detectors and be subject to an automated fine system. (yeah so passengers can't use them either - so what).

    Assholes in cars on phones are not the only killers on wheels, but they can be legislated against, identified and removed from the roads.

  26. Nick Askew

    Driving and talking

    I don't tend to drive all that much now, but when I did I used a hands free device and used it to receive calls and then explain to the caller that I was driving. That is within the law where I am living.

    Actually driving while eating, or drinking could well be illegal. If the officer sees you and you appear to be affecting your driving you may well be stopped. I am sure that this could be arguably extended to singing along with the radio, arguing with a passenger, or picking your nose.

    And as for the self righteous cyclists who believe they are nothing but victims. Well since giving up the car I cycle to and from the station every day and the idiots I see on bikes way outnumber the idiots I saw on the road. Cycling without lights, while using a phone, ignoring traffic lights, hell even ignoring road markings saying which direction to go in and who has priority. These people are a bigger danger to themselves (and other road users) than the average driver. Perhaps none of these "idiots" live in the UK but it would surprise me if that were the case.

    There are laws in place already that state that you must drive with care and consideration for other road users. Using a hands free set does not exclude this possibility but it can, when used wrongly, diminish it. Clearly using communications while in charge of a vehicle is not always dangerous otherwise the emergency services, pilot's, and no doubt other groups I've overlooked would simply not be able to go about their business without crashing into each other.

  27. Anonymous Coward

    Every day... see dipshits chatting away on the mobiles, handsfree, oblivious to their surroundings. Be they sales twats doing a 3 way conference call, women gossiping about the woman down the road or 17yr old lads, just, well being twats.

    I can guarentee at least twice a week I will be cut up by said such moron, so ban them I say.

    @ ac

    The recent proposals on a new careless driving law include penalising drivers for using hands-free

    It's already law, as is doing your makeup, shaving, stuffing a buger down you fat lardy face and retuning your radio.

    The Police and law line is pretty clear. if you are not concentrating on the road, you are breaking the law.

    Still when your loved ones get plouged into by someone chatting on the phone, see if you views are the same, will you go, oops a daisy, never mind, sure the conversation was far more important than looking where you were going (No it hasn't happend to me).

  28. Simon Neill

    @ Robert EAH

    "Perhaps we should campaign for all new phones to have a 'text only' mode"

    We have those. They are called "pagers"

    As for the dangers of using a phone while driving, mythbusters did it. Using a phone while driving can be just as dangerous as driving drunk in terms of response to unexpected events, with and without hands-free. Of course, when it comes to expected events like lights changing you can put the phone down you can't stop being drunk. Same for people singing with the radio, you can stop that whenever you want and comparatively it sucks less brain power than holding a conversation. Now, as for the whole "applying makeup, talking on the phone and screaming at the kids while speeding" thats just flatout dangerous driving and is already illegal.

  29. Wayland Sothcott

    There will be a day when we look back...

    and wonder how we ever let humans drive cars.

  30. Em

    Typical lobby group spiel

    Isn't the underlying problem a matter of driver attention and skill - both things that can be remedied to a degree by better and ongoing training?

    It amazes me that much of the new capabilities afforded to us by advancements in technology are used for the purposes of telling people what they can or cannot do (and in turn, policing and enforcing such activities) instead of using technology to bypass the problem altogether.

    If someone cannot hold a hands-free phone conversation whilst paying due care to the road then in my book they are just not able to multi-task to a level that most (well most people I know) can. Instead of penalising them, why not try offering them computerised training tools to assist them in managing tasks better?

    Ultimately, improving driver ability will make drivers better equipped to respond safely to travel conditions whilst taking away the right to do certain specific activities has a dumbing-down effect on driver ability.

  31. Joe Harrison

    Regularly almost lost it with CB

    I very frequently used to get that curly wire wrapped round the steering wheel when doing a turn... ah good times, good times. The funny thing is that although there is a phone handset ban in the UK the use of push-to-talk radios is still completely legal.

    Dave has got a point about very short calls on a handsfree being a positive benefit. But we all know that what people really do is yak on all the time for ages. There are enough people driving around like knobs without giving them even more incentive. I mean basically you can't drive properly when you're trying to join in some complicated business situation can you, it's like trying to have sex while doing mental arithmetic.

    At my company the management seem to be taking a serious view of the new corporate homicide laws and don't want to go to jail because some dopey pleb employee ran somebody over while driving on company business. We're not allowed to use handsfree anymore.

    To those who say how will it be enforceable... I don't think they'll have cameras watching your lips in case they move. The idea is they have got something to do you for after you've been involved in a smash, they will check to see if you were using your phone.

  32. Edward Miles

    Nice idea...

    But, one would imagine, somewhat difficult to enforce.

  33. Mike Crawshaw

    @ Robert EA Harvey

    "If it could be set to 'text only' that would be fine, I could here it chime and then stop when convenient to read what they have to say. Perhaps we should campaign for all new phones to have a 'text only' mode"

    There is such a beast as "text only" - it's called "Divert All Calls to Voicemail".

    I generally have mine set to a 5-second divert to voicemail, so I have the missed call on my screen, and I know who to call back if they haven't left a message. Or who's being a twat by calling over and over and over, and thus should be ignored in perpetuity.

    5 sec divert, if you're not using a phone with the option to set delay on unanswered calls in the divert menu, can be set up by keying:

    **61*(voicemail number)*11*5# <CALL>

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Summarising all comments

    ban driving altogether.

    Life is to distracting for driving.

    Alternatively, get Maschines to drive instead of distractable humans

  35. Amanda
    Thumb Up


    Highways have exits. You are not single-handedly responsible for preventing nuclear war. Your call can wait.

    I loved talking on my hands-free while driving between Baltimore and DC on perpetually-congested I-95. But after one hour-long gabfest, I realized I was back in Baltimore and couldn't remember anything that happened outside of my car. Sure, I was physically there, completely sober, hands on the wheel, eyes on the road, but my mind had been with my friend on the phone. If something had come up requiring a quick stop, I probably would not have been aware of it until too late.

    I've seen other spaced-out looking drivers talking to thin air, so I'm probably not the only one who pays less attention than they think they are while talking to someone not in the car.

    To those who think that they drive and talk on their mobiles just fine: there are also plenty of people who think that they drive as well on a beer or three as they do sober. I like my mobile and I love beer and wine, but those things just don't mix with safely operating a car.

    Driving's the most dangerous thing most of us do on a regular basis. Why voluntarily handicap ourselves behind the wheel?

  36. Robin


    "When automotive cell-phone calls are outlawed, only outlaws will make automotive cell-phone calls."

    That's a great mental image of Clint Eastwood, riding into a dusty old town whilst talking on his mobe!

  37. John Imrie

    Transcript of call

    ... and get someone to tell those Government busybodies that driving and using a hands free mobile phone does not impair you're <unintelligible shout followed by sound of collision>

  38. Chris Green
    Thumb Up

    Passengers & Police Have Advantages

    Agree entirely with a ban.

    I've seen far too many fools on the phone, as they drive in an obviously distracted manner. Sure, there are those that can use a phone in a sensible manner, but unfortunately, there are many more that can't or wont.

    Passengers, distracting? Yes, but they have the advantage of sight and can see when you, the driver, are extra busy making sure you avoid the idiot on the phone in the other car that's too close for comfort.

    The police, etc. are trained to use vehicle comm's better than we ever are and they also have that little advantage of looking like a vehicle that contains someone that can get you in trouble faster than a Paris can raise blood pressure.

    Mind you, if government and police are that interested in road safety, why don't they start pulling over the most dangerous of drivers. The roads are full of them, right behind you. So close you can't see their number plate in your mirror, or, in the case of lorries, so close you couldn't squeeze Paris in between them.

  39. Tim Spence

    BBC Have Your Say

    Have I come to the wrong site, and actually ended up on a BBC Have Your Say page?

    Sweet Jesus people, get a grip and think before you post. Talk about polarising opinion!

  40. Mike Tree

    Ban the phone but.....

    .... everyone can have a gun! Sometimes I think they get their priorities wrong.

    Mine's the one that's lined with kevlar!

  41. Anonymous Coward

    RE: works for me

    Sorry but you are incorrect. In the UK at least driving is in fact A RIGHT and not a privilege from the state. Of course it is subject to a licence which has to be earned and can be revoked but it is nonetheless a right.

  42. Simon
    Thumb Up

    Ban the phone!

    Yes, Hurrah!

    The problem as always will be people *Won't* get the reason for the ban. Im sure certain people will still continue to act like idiots as usual and wear their Idiot Driver Badge with pride.

    They still consider their own little conversation more important than everyone elses personal safety, dont bother arguing the point into the ground, if you were a sensible driver you wouldnt be going "What about my radio or my sandwich?" because you wouldnt be allowing that to distract you either, you know you don't have to obey the gadget, it doesn't rule you.

    My *wat of the day award goes to the guy I saw on the M6 this morning using an electric shaver while he was driving, yeah I was that guy on the motorbike shaking my head at you.

  43. Anonymous Coward

    Last night - bizarre

    As I was coming home, I turned into the street where I live and noticed a young lady waiting at the junction facing me in her car with no lights on.

    I stopped, wound down my window and helpfully pointed out that she had no lights on (it was very dark).

    Her reply - "I know, I'm on the phone".

    Phew, I felt like such an idiot. I should have thought of that. Obviously the safest thing to do when you get a call at night is stop in the middle of the road at a "Give Way" sign and switch everything off.

  44. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    'text only mode' ??

    Yee gods have some control - just don't answer it!

    I'm not comfortable on the phone driving - hands free doesn't make any difference. I was following another car to a camp site in wales once and the honest truth is I have no idea how I got there, I was in mid wales on minute and at the campsite the next - all due to an involved phone call from work, the driving was on autopilot.

    I just don't answer it now - I'll pull in somewhere in the next few minutes and call them back. If it's a with held number I probably didn't want to speak to them anyway.

    If I'm on a motorway they have to wait a bit longer until I find a services - gives me a chance to get a drink anyway :)

  45. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Already the law where I work

    The telco I work for will fire anyone immediately if they are found to use their mobile whilst driving including bluetoothing it or wired to an earpiece. Considering we promote people to use mobile phones makes it kind of ironic that they'll fire their own staff for using what we sell !!!!!

    Paris - cos she's dumb, 'nuf said

  46. Sarah Bee (Written by Reg staff)

    Re: Already the law where I work

    Doesn't sound ironic to me, it sounds perfectly consistent. Company doesn't want its employees giving its products a bad name, innit.

  47. Phil the Geek

    Multi-tasking failure

    I was stationary at a pedestrian crossing when someone drove into the back of me. The BMW-driving wanker who hit me was on the phone of course, "oh, sorry mate" as he shrugged sheepishly. It was a big impact - ironically my own hands-free kit flew out of the tray under the dash.

    It could have been a lot worse, if I hadn't been there to arrest his progress he would probably have killed the teenage girl who was crossing the road - she was exactly in front of me when he rammed me.

    So I'm all in favour of "the nanny state" banning mobile use while driving. I would support mandatory bans and re-tests.

  48. Anonymous Coward

    Re: Passengers aren't as distracting

    I suggest you take your typical "know all" father in law for a ride. Shut up? Forget it...

    As far as talking on the phone being severely distracting - I agree. However, there are technical means of dealing with that. As anyone who have left his blackberry forgotten on one times too many flying in Europe knows, mobile networks already blacklist devices that move too fast while being active.

    All that is needed here is to blacklist any phone that is making a non-emergency call while moving at above 20mph (95%+ of all journeys are made with only one person in the car so the question of passengers talking is rather moot or should be handled by dedicated in-car devices available _ONLY_ to passengers).

    However if you want to walk into a mobile operator boardroom with this suggestion you should probably wear a flak jacket and an asbestos suit on top. Though even that may not be sufficient. It is a key part of mobile revenue and they will skin you alive for this one.

  49. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Compared to alcohol...

    I read the report that the Transport and Road Research Lab did before the UK partial ban was introduced. They measured driving ability in a "car simulator" with various distractions and calibrated it against the level of impairment resulting from alcohol. The conclusion was that using a hands-free phone caused more impairment than being at the legal alcohol limit, and using a hand-held phone was about twice as bad. On this basis, if we think that the alcohol limit is right, they should have banned all use. I don't recall whether they also measured texting; this is the difficult one IMO. Before the ban people who were texting would hold the phone up so that they could at least see some of the road. Now they hold it down in their lap where they have no chance of seeing anything that's going on outside.

  50. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Coffee cups etc

    As it stands, under current UK legislation you can get done for simply changing your radio station whilst driving (seriously). If a police officer sees you and determines that it is causing you to lose control or otherwise not pay attention - that is an offence. In England, this can just be on the officer's say-so (not the case in Scotland as the court does not recognise a police officer's word carrying any more wieght).

    Also included in the offence are any forms of drinking, eating, smoking, map-reading (including GPS); in fact, any activity that does not involve both hands being involved in the act of driving.

    It is high-time there was a total ban in place, with harsh penalties for any offender (six month ban, no "undue hardship" defence, for the first offence would seem to be about right). YOU know the rick, YOU put the phone to your ear; YOU made that choice; face the consequences.

    While we're at it, can we bring in mandatory re-testing (every 10 years says), eye tests (every 2 years) and medicals (every 5 years) for all drivers? Yes this will cost, but I bet the benefits will more than outweigh that.

  51. Ed Blackshaw Silver badge

    This side of teh pond we already have a motoring offence

    'Driving Without Due Care and Attention'

    I'd be surprised if our transatlantic cousins didn't have something similiar, so instead of passing new legislation to ban highly specific problems, such as not paying attention to the road because you are talking on the phone, the existing laws should be applied. i.e. simply not paying attention to the road for whatever reason, be it the screaming kids in the back, the mobile phone or the fact that the driver hasn't slept in 36 hours.

  52. Filippo Silver badge

    Screw the cyclists

    If cyclists were subject to the same standard of driving as cars, maybe they wouldn't get into so many accidents. Seeing a car go in the wrong direction on a one-way road isn't that common, but bikes? Damn near every day. Bikes overtaking on the wrong side near busy intersections, turning without signaling, bikes without lights at night, two bikers cycling side-by-side and chatting, bikes reaching a pedestrian crossing and turning abruptly to use it to cross the road, bikes swerving suddenly to avoid a hole in the road, bikers cycling happily with broken brakes. And, of course, bikers talking on the phone, holding an umbrella (do you realize you're one gust of wind away from death?), holding the handle with one hand, or sometimes not holding it at all.

    Cyclists on average drive much worse than cars, and how could it be any different? You don't need a cycling license. I'm not the one who dies if you get in a frontal crash in a one-way street, so I wouldn't mind it as much if not for the fact that in any accident involving a car and a bike, it seems that the car driver is guilty until proven innocent. I wish that would change.

  53. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re:Passengers aren't as distracting

    Having actually crashed whilst distracted by a passenger, I can assure you it wasn't her conversation that was the issue..

  54. Alex
    Black Helicopters

    don't worry

    soon new cars will be fitted with CARHART(tm) this is a small GPS unit which features a cell local proximity cellphone jamming device which engages once the engine be running, this unit also operates as a RFID V5 Tax + MOT certificate as well as carrying details of your insurance payments.

    This functionality is to be extended to cover congestion charging & road tolls.

    Should your vehicle be stolen its location can be pinpointed immediately by the DVLA who will be operating the OVERLOOK(tm) system.

    don't worry, its all for your protection.

  55. Phil Hare

    Add it to the driving test?

    Mobile phones aren't going away, and criminalising their use means that people would not only be talking and driving at the same time, they would be talking and driving *and* looking out for police cars. The law will actually make people that use their phones whilst driving *less* safe, but it is highly unlikely to deter people from doing using them after the investment made in a hands-free kit.

    The emergency services, on the other hand, are trained in using their radios whilst driving safely, so perhaps this should be incorporated in to the driving test. Or perhaps whether or not a person is driving safely should be left up to the police on the ground. Personally if I was driving (which I don't any more, because I'm bored with the whole concept and public transport where I live is quite entertaining) on the motorway and came across another vehicle driving perfectly safely whilst the driver was using a hands free kit, I would not fear for my life any more than I would if they had passengers. Furthermore, I don't put idiotic driving by a person on the phone down to the fact that they're on the phone, but down to the fact that they're an idiot.

    Incidentally, this legislation won't happen; it would deliver a serious blow to one of the few industries left that is actually making a profit as well as the other industries (such as couriers) that have adapted to rely on the technology.

    It's a nice idea, but it's seriously flawed.

  56. Chris Williams

    What about Jack Bauer?

    Whilst I completely agree that, in general, phoning and driving should be outlawed and punishable harshly, I'm worried about the future of the free world if Jack Bauer has to pull over his gigantic black 4x4 to yell "dammit Chloe" into his phone.

    On second thoughts, if he didn't have a phone, then it wouldn't ring at inopportune moments when he's sneaking his way through a box-filled warehouse out of the gaze of machine gun-wielding foreigners, I mean terrorists.

  57. Anonymous Coward

    Cyclists only

    Not sure about elsewhere but in London Kuddley Ken had traffic light junctions re-painted to accommodate cyclists at the front.

    Some junctions look like they could fit the Tour de France.

    The only benefit of their being in front of you you in the queue is that you can get all of them in one go if you get away quick on the amber....

    /funeral directors

  58. Chris Miller

    A modest proposal

    ... to eliminate traffic deaths and injuries AND solve the unemployment problem. Pay someone to walk in front of every vehicle carrying a red flag. Surely if it saves just one life, it must be worth it?

    Risk analysis, we've heard of it.

  59. Chris Bradshaw

    I'm with the 'dangerous driving' ban crowd

    Give the police more incentive (and more power) to enforce the existing laws against dangerous driving (including mobile use, watching miniskirts, cutting off, tailgating, putting on makeup, etc)

    Making a mobile call at 4:45 PM on a busy fast road without a divider and with screaming kids in the back - yes, it's dangerous and stupid and hopefully people won't do it.

    Making the same call at 11 PM on a wide empty motorway is much less dangerous and I don't have a problem with it.

    Re bikes - I also bike a lot in cities (San Francisco, Prague) and the idiots out there are idiots whether or not they are on their phones - if the phones were banned they would just occupy both brain cells doing something else instead... And they are a problem for cars too.. Ban them from driving for a year after the 2nd accident, for 3 years after the 3rd, and 5 years for each subsequent one.

    Or hang them, it used to work with pirates... (weak, I know, but gotta have an icon :-) )

  60. Anonymous Coward

    Rather than bring in new laws

    Why not enforce the ones we have better first?

    As a driver and a cyclist in London, I'm amazed at the amount of both putting themselves and others at risk with dodgy driving, however I hear rather than cracking down on bad and dangerous road use, the Met have been told to sack a load of Traffic Police. Helpful that, even if they do enact a law, there's no-one there to enforce it.

    Of course legislation is rather less expensive than enforcement and makes the public happy that SOMETHING HAS BEEN DONE ABOUT THIS THREAT TO OUR CHILDREN! Labour have really made an art out of making illegal things more illegal, without actually having an effect on whatever they're trying to prevent.

    How about instead of enacting new laws, we spend the money that would go to the think-tanks on some more traffic police, stick some on bikes in urban areas too and crack down on the dangerous drivers.

  61. GettinSadda

    Hey - let's ban all these things

    Not forgetting that if it is unsafe to talk on the phone while driving it must be even worse to talk on a radio-device while flying a plane - especially while taking off or landing. What was that? They do this all the time? Argh, no! Run for the hills...

    Flame on...

  62. Andus McCoatover

    Passengers in cars safer

    Maybe..until we get that dashboard robot I read about on this illustrious site...Went something like...

    a) [HAL voice] "Dave, Dave, you seem a liitle tired. There's a cafe 500 metres ahead. Why not stop for a cup of coffee?"


    b) [Wife's voice] "DAVE you stupid fuc*ker! Wake up, ya twat! You're gonna crash us into the bleeding caff!"

    Passenger has both choices. Your mate on a mobile has neither.

  63. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A simple answer

    If the police catch you chatting on your hands-free in a place where it's legal, fair enough. If they catch you driving dangerously- handsfree or not- they should pull you over. If you've been in a crash (or at least one where someone's been hurt) they should check the call logs from your network to see if you were on the phone- make it an exacerbating factor rather than a crime on its own.

    Wait, isn't that how the law is already over here?

    And cyclists- cutting to the front of a traffic queue just so you can slow down the 20 people stuck behind you is just rude. Being in the middle of a traffic queue isn't any safer than being at the front of a traffic queue- the cars in front of you will get up to speeds far in excess of anything you'll manage, pulling away from you. Which will lead to you being at the front of the remaining queue.

    I don't have a problem with someone's choice of transport (apart from those godawful pink limo things...) but please don't be a twat about it.

  64. Steve
    Thumb Up

    It's the only way to be sure!

    Yep I'm for that, I can always tell when the car in front has it's driver on the phone, the tell tale slowness and late signalling, not to mention the close calls.

  65. bob

    The common sense approach

    I have a long commute and I regularly use a hands free. To make a call, I either connect before I set off, or wait for a long, clear stretch of road before taking my eye off the road for the second it takes to glance at the phone to press the right quickdial key. I don't make or receive calls in built up areas, and when on the motorway or dual carriage way I pull into the slow lane before taking a call. But hey, according to some of the knee-jerk, bandwagon jumping muppets here I'm a lethal killer.

    Sometimes, if conditions are favourable, I also exceed the speed limit. On dry motorways in light traffic and good visibility I might even drive at 90mph. And thats another situation where the same old arguments come out. I suppose its a wonder no one has died. Think of the children. And so on (I have also been known to have a drink from a cup of coffee or a bite from a sandwich, adjust my radio or eat chewing gum, all without endangering anyone at all, ever)

    We need more common sense, not more laws. More laws give people an excuse for not thinking for themselves, when they should be assessing each situation on its merits and acting accordingly. We have all seen people driving incredibly dangerously but within the law, and a lot of you will have recieved fines and points for doing something against the law that endangered no one.

    Lets have more well trained coppers making judgement calls based on observation, experience and common sense, and less automatic systems collecting stealth taxes from people safely and sensibly going about their business.

  66. Big_Boomer

    Technology is wonderful. People are idiots!

    Tehcnology is wonderful.

    You won't get busted for phoning whilst driving if you weren't on the phone.

    Why? Well, because your phone records will show the call NOT taking place.

    People are idiots. I watched a cycle courier ride through a pedestrian area (no cycling) whilst on the phone last week. He rode right into a pillar and went down in a big heap.

    There was blood (no helmet) and his bike was totalled.

    I almost laughed myself sick. :-)

    If you are stupid enough to want to hurt yourself like that, I'll see you in the Darwin Awards one day. However, if you threaten me or mine with your stupidity and selfishness, then you just became my enemy and you will suffer the consequences.

  67. Sarah Bee (Written by Reg staff)

    Re: Technology is wonderful. People are idiots!

    Well, that's nice.

  68. Anonymous Coward


    "Sorry but you are incorrect. In the UK at least driving is in fact A RIGHT and not a privilege from the state. Of course it is subject to a licence which has to be earned and can be revoked but it is nonetheless a right."

    Idiot - a RIGHT cannot be taken away, whereas a licence can so driving is not a god given right but a goverment issued licence! it can and does get revoked.

    I suppose you are the idiot with the phone permantly glued to your ear, eating & drinking whilst driving at 60 mph in a 30 mph zone?

    Let the flame wars begin!

  69. Anonymous Coward

    One word...


  70. Donkey

    It is the nanny state gorn mad!

    phoning is less distracting than tuning and listening to the radio, and what about smoking, picking your nose or rummaging about in the glove box for your chewing gum or favourite CD?

    None of these things are dangerous if done with caution, just as speed doesn't kill. Stupidity and bad driving kills.

    Fact : The government is looking at compulsory re-testing for older people when the vast majority of accidents are caused by young testosterone-fuelled men. If you want to reduce accidents raise the driving age to 30.

    Fact: Around 20% of accidents involve someone who has used alcohol. So statistically speaking drunk drivers are far less of a problem than sober ones. Yet all the effort seems to be aimed at the drinkers who only are involved in (not necessarily causing) 20% of the carnage.

    So I say forget all these petty "can't do" things which in the scheme of things are minor, and concentrate on improving the driving standards.

  71. The Fuzzy Wotnot
    Thumb Down

    What about built-in kit eh?

    Even my cheapo Honda CRV has a hand free built into the car systems, bluetooth to the SatNav/Stereo system, to stop it you have unconfigure the bluetooth settings in the SatNav or turn the phone off. There is no physical attachment, so I can see a load of sneaky firmware updates next time it and countless other brands of car go in for their services!

  72. Master Baker

    @Bryan Reed get a life - by AC

    Totally agree with this post.

    Bryan, you are typical of the gimps who dress-up in perverse spandex and take to the streets with a 'poor-me' attitude. You are responsible for your own safety.

    My experience with cyclists, and with some motor-bike riders too is that they will endanger themselves just to get to the front of a queue. It's not so bad with motor bikes because at least they leave you for dust when the lights go-green. All the cyclist succeeds in doing is creating a queue of angry drivers behind them. Green energy? Fuck off. What about the queue of cars and trucks behind you stuck in low gears?

    I have to drive through a number of cuntry lanes to get to/get home from work. The area is full of cyclists. At one point I have to go up quite a steep hill. Even though there is a path no cyclist has yet get off their bike and walked it up the hill on the pavement. They all struggle, wobbling in-and out of their lane position (making overtaking impossible - on a hill will many blind bends), spandex-a-flashing and arse-cheeks akimbo. It's not a pretty sight.

    And then, especially driving home at winter on unlit roads, the amount of feckers who think it's ok - ie not their responsibility... to cycle wearing nought but black, on a black bike with no lights. These feckers are very hard to see, especially with traffic coming the other way (headlights shining in your eyes). I've had some near-misses with these scum bags, and on each occassion they curse and throw abuse as if they own the road. It's my fault you're cycling at night dressed like a fucking ninja is it? Grow up. Sometimes I wonder what it would be like just to roll over them in my porsche. I imagine that, given their choice of dress their bodies wouldn't be found until morning, and by then they'd be nought but mush.

    I think it's a good idea to legislate against dangerous driving on every vehicle - bit it a car, truck, tractor or a cycle etc. However, wrapping people up in legislation should not take away their social responsibilities. You choose to get into a car/truck/onto a bike etc - and you're responsible for your actions and subsequent consequences. Kill someone and it should be manslaughter - not a dangerous driving offence (which would mean a short sentence).

    Blue-man picture, because it looks like a cyclist. Especially in winter. Where they still wear spandex!

  73. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The emergency services

    often use their radios to describe the conditions around them as they drive eg commentary by police during a chase so in a sense using their communications while driving can assist their driving.

    Talking to a remote person about something unrelated to driving must divert some attention away from driving which is not a good thing. Especially detailed conversations requiring more thought and concentration. In most cases the call can and should wait until proper attention can be applied to it.

  74. Anonymous Coward

    @ Em

    "If someone cannot hold a hands-free phone conversation whilst paying due care to the road then in my book they are just not able to multi-task to a level that most (well most people I know) can. Instead of penalising them, why not try offering them computerised training tools to assist them in managing tasks better?"

    Because there are no computerised training tools to make your brain larger or to rearchitect it.

    People can't multi-task. You can't do two things that both require concentration at the same time without concentrating less on each task. The idea that you can is wrong-headed and, in this situation, dangerous. "Due care to the road" is all your attention. Perhaps you think not paying your full attention to the road is OK. The reality is that it's fine until something unexpected happens, at which point the person paying attention is ten times less likely to have an accident than the person who thinks she can multitask.

    The irony is that most women seem to think "multi-tasking" is something women can do and men can't. I often get ribbed about this by my wife. Fortunately, ironing or cleaning badly is rarely fatal.

  75. Mark

    @Hombre sin nombre

    Nope, the passenger is in the same car that is about to crash. This makes them just as interested in the car not crashing as you.

  76. Chris

    What Nanny State really wants... for you all to sit in your cells, under 24/7 surveillance, forever.

    That way you can't hurt yourself, rock the boat, or do ANYTHING.

    If you can see any tiny flaws in this plan then you are part of the problem!

  77. Richard

    Stupidest idea ever

    There's a reason why this is daft. Mobile phones while driving? Yes, dangerous. Hands-free? Uh no.

    Answering a hands-free call requires pushing a button on the side of your head. Then you just talk.

    Driving meanwhile requires operating up to 4 controls at once (Clutch, Brake, Steering Wheel, Gear Stick).

    During a call? Talking. So lets extend this idea using simple logic:

    You are now banned from making conversation. You must get in the car and sit in silence until you reach your destination. Oh wait. You can't. Use of any control is banned. Therefore driving is banned.

    Vehicles are now obsolete. We must all walk.

    Are we seeing the daft yet?

    -- Richard

  78. greg

    pointless legislation

    How are the plod going to enforce this if it passes? Pull over every driver with a hands-free kit regardless whether or not they were on a call!?

    IMO this is just another nanny state idea set to piss off more people than save lives.

    Banning the use of mobile phones without hands-free kits is sensible. This is plain stupid.

  79. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re:Re:Passengers aren't as distracting

    "All that is needed here is to blacklist any phone that is making a non-emergency call while moving at above 20mph (95%+ of all journeys are made with only one person in the car so the question of passengers talking is rather moot or should be handled by dedicated in-car devices available _ONLY_ to passengers)."

    How could you justify blacklisting any phone under that circumstance? How about people who ARE passengers at the time, or people on a bus or train for example? Annoying though it can be, to listen in to somebody talking on their mobile on a train, there's no justification to make it illegal. That actually wins the runner-up prize for the most ridiculous idea I've heard in the last 12 months, coming just behind the governments plans to fix the economy.

    As for where you pull your figures from, 95% of all car journeys are not made alone, it's closer to 75% and very much not a moot point.

    I'm all for a technical solution that would prevent these people from using mobiles while driving, but that one just plain doesn't work.

  80. Onionman

    Try this at home; most edifying

    I used to think "hands free = bad driving" was tripe until I tried this:

    Put your hand on a desk with the fingers hanging out over open space. Hold your finger and thumb about 2" apart. Get someone else to hold a 12" ruler in the gap. get them to drop it three times while you try to catch it as soon as it moves. That'll give you a baseline drop distance reflex time thingy.

    Then get them to talk to you. Answer their questions in casual conversation. If they drop at a point when you're thinking, you'll be horrified by the result. Typically, you'll see the distance double (= 4* the reaction time).

    So, that's 4* the reaction time when you're talking and waiting for something to happen. Imagine the effect when you're on the phone and the unexpected kid runs into the road.

    I now NEVER use my hands free kit (paid for out of my own pocket)


  81. Graham Marsden

    Nanny state? No way!

    For those who think this is the Nanny State, would they say that making Drinking and Driving an offence is *also* the Nanny State? Would they argue for the DD laws to be removed then?

    And as for the motorists bitching about cyclists, yes, there are idiots who cycle on pavements or without lights etc and, as a cyclist myself, I wish they wouldn't do it, but if you're driving a tonne and a half of metal you are a serious risk to *OTHERS*, not just to yourself. *Very* few people have been killed or injured by stupid cyclists apart from themselves, so stop using this Straw Man argument.

  82. Anonymous Coward


    Mobiles should be banned while driving except for people that hold a current PPL/CPL/ATPL or MIL equivalent.

    Just because...

  83. Russell

    Hang on a mo...

    Can we all have a look at some actual facts rather than just re-iterating the same old arguments? I wasn't sure about this issue myself, so I did a bit of Googling. I couldn't find statistics for England but the reported causes of RTAs in Scotland are readily available here:

    Tables N and O show that, in 2007, 16 accidents and 3 deaths were attributable to "Driver Using Mobile Phone". More deaths, and a great many more accidents, were attributable to "Dazzling Sun" - shall we legislate against that, too? In fact, Table M shows that "Driver Using Mobile Phone" wasn't even a secondary factor in enough cases to figure in the list - where you would expect to see a link, if the reactionary comments of some posters were to be believed, between "Driver Using Mobile Phone" and, for example, "Careless/Reckless/In a hurry" or "Failed to judge other pers. path/speed".

    I know that there are lies, damn lies and statistics; but surely, these figures would suggest that the assertion that "People who drive on their phones are as bad as/worse than drink-drivers" is not only wrong (in the case, at least, of Scotland) but actively detracts from the fight against the drink-driver - something I wholeheartedly support?

  84. Carl Williams

    What to ban next?

    Maybe even guns, after all these are far more dangerous than a car an mobile surely?

  85. Cameron Colley

    Are lots of people having dumb-days?

    How the hell do you enforce this? The pricks who would ban phones in cars obviously haven't thought it through:

    What if I want to listen to internet radio in the car?

    What about setting the phone to beep when a call is received then pulling over at the next safe place?

    How about texts (as above)?

    What if I'm driving at night and am ambushed at a red light (this happened enough near where I'm from that the police advised driving through red lights at night). Do I have to unlock the glove-box and turn on my phone?

    Then you have the problem we get here in the UK -- where it's illegal to pull up on the side of a road, put your handbrake on, and call someone. Would you make that illegal when using hands-free kits too?

  86. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Do it

    If for no other reason than to see the look on the faces of those people who think they're so damn important that they have to take a call no matter what they're doing.

    "we can't help lament the ongoing and seemingly incessant efforts by the nanny state to legislate common sense"

    Judging by the number of asshats I see around here who are driving very badly indeed while yakking into thin air or with their cellphones clamped to their ear, there's a world shortage of common sense. That's hardly news, but the bad drivers who have always been bad are even worse now they have more shiny things to preoccupy them. Meanwhile the average drivers have joined the bad ones in their distracted ineptitude.

    Not drinking and driving is also common sense, yet we have laws against doing that, too. Sure, people still do it, but at least when they get caught they have consequences to face for their irresponsibility. When people with no common sense endanger everyone else, they *should* be punished.

    "But if the NSC and their legislative allies have their way, that day may come when we are all securely encased in bubble wrap and duct-taped to a comfy couch."

    I really don't have a problem with people who choose to recklessly endanger themselves. It's their life and their choice, the last thing we need is to have even more legislation protecting the stupid from themselves.

    However, what I have a *serious* problem with is when their stupidity endangers everyone around them. That's when legislation becomes appropriate. We've long passed the point where people need to have the message that "distracted driving is dangerous" pounded into their empty heads until they finally "get it". Because right now they don't.

  87. Sarah Bee (Written by Reg staff)

    can I just say

    I do love it when you get hysterical and sarcastic at the same time. It never gets old.

  88. Anonymous Coward

    King Canute?

    True, true... It does raise the question of what's the point in having laws if a sizable bunch of people choose not to observe or uphold those laws?

    The problem is: stand at any urban roundabout in the UK and you can see the effect on driving. Trying to change gear, turn the steering wheel and hold a mobile phone at the same time seems to be attempted by so many people.

  89. Rob

    Let be real

    1. We don't have enough traffic police to make this even remotely enforceable.

    2. Allowing this is a pre-cursor in the UK to the Uber-comms database and other such stupid ideas.

    3. The biggest killer for drivers is other drivers first thing in the morning that only care about their life and getting to their destination, that's the biggest FAIL for concentration, mobile phones, screaming babies or not.

    In short it won't work, most humans think they have a god given right to do what they like when they like regardless of the law, it usually never applies to them anyway is their thinking !!!

  90. Chris
    Thumb Up

    @ Amanda

    Thank you. I drive I-95 between DC and Laurel every day, and I'm glad to know that at least one other person is paying attention. I will answer or place a quick call, but that's all. I also don't believe listening to "books on tape" while driving is a good idea. It can be just as distracting.

    When I read that Va. was passing a law against texting while driving, I couldn't understand why it was needed. Surely there was no one stupid enough to try to do that. But I apparently vastly under estimated the stupidity of the American public.

    I think automatic transmissions should also be banned. People would pay more attention to driving if they had to shift and use the clutch. Power steering is bad too.

  91. Paul Rhodes
    Black Helicopters

    ....normally the passengers will shut up .......

    ...Second, if the driving conditions become more hazardous, normally the passengers will shut up - or tell you to pay attention to the road! ......

    You've clearly never had young kids in the car. The more to tell them to stop bickering, the more they argue to get you to take one side or another. They certainly don't give 2 hoots what's going on outside the vehicle.

    Amongst the rest of the list that pay no attention to other road-users to moderate volume:



    RDS Traffic Bulletins

    The Kids DVD players

    Ban the lot-of-them or just practise common sense.

  92. Pyromancer
    Dead Vulture

    It's not the phone, it's the conversation.

    All the people going on about handsfree being safe because you don't have to hold it to your ear are missing the point. It's not the phone that's dangerout, it's the conversation. Phone conversations cause the callers to shift their mental focus to the call. Most of us can carry on doing other stuff, like driving, because most of the time it's not that difficult to do.

    Right up until that point when someone steps out in front of you. At which point the person on the phone will kill the pedestrian, while the person not on the phone has at least half a chance of stopping / going round.

    Not sure I could live with an avoidable death on my conscience. Presumably all who insist handsfree is safe aren't fussed.

  93. Norman

    It was a few years ago

    When I actually had a hands fee mobile phone.

    I took a call while driving down the M1, at the end I had to think where I was and what had happened in the past 10 minutes (at 70mph - say 12 miles!).

    Never used one in a vehicle since!

  94. jason bennett
    Thumb Down

    How long until the UK government goes the same way?

    Not that it bothers me. I flout the mobile phone driving ban daily and with the amount of police on our roads I would say the chances of being caught are close to nil!

  95. Daniel B.

    @Robert E A Harvey

    I think the feature you're asking for is called "Do Not Disturb" in some handsets. I know my Blackberry has that setting; only email / texts will go through, any incoming calls go directly to voicemail. I usually set the thing on "vibrating mode" instead, with a special profile for really really important calls (say, my boss is calling) but the rest will only be answered if I'm not driving. And no calls are answered if I'm not using the hands-free device!

    The spazed-out effect during a phone call is real. I usually slow down when I actually answer a call, and even then I once almost slammed against another vehicle while driving 80 km/h on a highway a year ago; fortunately my earlier decision to "go slow" made me prevent this crash, as I was still far enough to avoid the collision.

    I wouldn't enforce a hands-free ban, but the risks of DWC (driving while calling) should be included in driving courses.

  96. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    For something around two years, the District of Columbia has had a law against operating a car while using a hand-help phone. If you can walk two blocks in downtown without observing a driver holding cell phone to ear, you aren't paying attention. As far as I can tell, the law has had about the same effect as the "No Taxation Without Representation" license plates we have, though the police apparently do write some tickets.

  97. Anonymous Coward

    Utter and complete nonsense

    I give this stupid and pointless piece of proposed legislation -5,000,000 for originality and - 5,000,000 for being in any way a valid or workable law. This is yet another example of government and paid for by the government lobbies attempting to enforce their "we are the government and we know what is best for you now shut up and take it before we ship you off to gitmo" attitude.

    It never ceases to amaze me how these people can twist numbers to make it fit what they want to push and for some reason people still believe them. One study by said group finds driving while talking no more dangerous than talking to a passenger, the same group a couple years later (and I'm sure due to prodding from govt. officials with their own nanny agenda) publish a study where the findings are 180 degrees the opposite. So which is it hum??? Oh right I forgot, you're paid government lobbyists only accountable to which ever senator/congressman/etc promises you the most grant money, my bad.

    Total gits one and all.

  98. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    It does distract, but new laws won't help

    I have to confess, I'm one of those idiots on the road on a hands-free. And yes, I've observed that it distracts me, as well as other drivers - while I haven't stopped using it, I've certainly curtailed my usage and have changed my driving habits as well (i.e. if I must be on a call, I switch to the slower lane and deliberately pay much closer attention to the road - if the call suffers as a result, too damn bad, it's not worth anyone's life!) Voice-activated dialing also makes a difference - no distraction looking away for even a moment to dial a number (although I occasionally wind up swearing at the phone when it won't listen properly).

    I have also observed poor driving in other phone users on the road, hands-free or not - anyone who doesn't think it impacts your driving ought to try Onionman's test or look up the MythBusters episode, it's quite enlightening.

    However, I don't think new laws are going to help - I happen to live in Connecticut, one of the 6 US states that has outlawed hands-on cell-phone use. Nobody cares. It's not enforced. I've even driven by state police who are on the damn things. Granted, they're trained to handle driving and communications, but they should at least try to set an example.

    Much better to enforce the laws on the books already - distracted driving is already an offense, and it covers all the elements of mobile stupidity, including make-up, the giant coffee cup, the egg sandwich, smoking (how many accidents has that caused, eh?) and trying to navigate the menus on the GPS instead of navigating the road. Observe someone not driving well, bust 'em for whatever they're doing wrong (not observing lane restrictions, following too close, just damn well being an idiot, whatever).

    Paris, because she's smart enough to have a driver so she can use her phone safely (password hacks notwithstanding ...)

  99. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Country Life

    All this stuff about cyclists and traffic lights and bus lanes is fine, but I use my carphone whilst traversing great bounds of bugger-all-empty moorland. Yes, there's the odd sheep or hiker to keep an eye out for, but the rest of it is long, wide empty roads.

    At the end of those roads are small rural communities, very thinly served by small numbers of mobile vets, cops, breakdown trucks, etc. I'm one of those people. I'd be *delighted* to switch my phone off and enjoy 20hrs pw driving through this countryside on full salary, but the public service I work for would need to increase staffing by at least 20-30% to make up the service reduction.

    But the public won't wear that, so services to powerless rural communities will be cut even further to please the lycra-clad townies, and people like me will carry on using our carphones to manage that situation as best we can. Fortunately our local police will ignore the townie laws anyway... :o)

  100. Jemma
    Paris Hilton

    You know what people are liking at night? Headlights...

    Sigh... I had an argument with a girl once in a pub about how bad it was that her sister was hit and killed by a driver who had been drinking (but was well below the legal limit).

    I was sympathetic up to the point I found out that IdiotGirl (TM) had been riding a bike down a notorious back road at 2am without lights wearing black. A road that is more like a rally stage than a public road and has more potholes than Jade Goody's internal organs. I drove that road almost every day to work and back, or with my family to get to places and I hated it - let alone with Nora the Nerk appearing out of nowhere. It says something that my dad hates it and he's the sort to do Porlock Hill towing a caravan!

    I am sick to the back teeth of drivers being blamed for IdiotNeuter's wandering around the place either drunk, stoned or listening to iJerks and getting hit because they dont pay attention.

    That said - Handsfree/Voice calling should be trained into drivers. Fit the cars with them as standard and train the owner to use it properly. Problem solved... until another Nora the Nerk cycles erratically into the spot that 2 tonnes of metal is going to be occupying whether she, the driver, or the laws of physics like it or not.

    And if you have to be that much of a whiney "health and safety" wazzock then get nokia et all to put a lockout into phones - so that if they are in a car they dont work full stop... great up until some 19 year old girl gets her brain splashed all over the dashboard in the car thieves version of the stop'n'shop.

    Mobile phones are a tool... like any other tool they have to be used properly. Use handsfree & voice dial. Only call when its urgent. Only answer when its safe. Even Paris Hilton can manage it!

    'safety fanatics' are also tools - their proper usage is being strapped inside decommisioned space shuttles and sent to mars.... Cmdr Ralph "gormless at any speed" Nader; come on down...

  101. iRadiate

    Nanny state? Are you serious?

    "I don't care if someone does something stupid and gets hurt. I do care if someone does something stupid and hurts other people. As someone who bicycles on city streets and frequently has to slam on the brakes to avoid getting crushed under the vehicles of morons talking on the phone, I applaud this development."

    I presume you don't 'applaud' this development' whilst riding your cycle. That would be a little dangerous

  102. Sandra Greer
    Thumb Down

    Ban them for pedestrians too

    I live in New York City and work in downtown Manhattan. The sidewalks are a menace. People who walk while yakking on cells have glazed eyes and will run right into you. There are also the ones who stand at the top of the subway (Underground) stairways and yak, or walk back and forth on a step and yak. They also stop short in front of you to YAK!

    They seem to have lost sight of anything outside their language centres (the new solipsism?). A lot of them are women, but not all.

    Language is the most complex thing we do. It can't readily be multi-tasked.

    It's a good thing most New Yorkers never drive. They're enough of a menace on foot.

  103. SoltanGris
    Thumb Up

    Good, and while they are at it...

    I'd be happy to see this enacted. Some lives may actually be saved.

    While they are at it they should also ban teenagers and then ban idiocy.

    Actually, come to think of it, if they would ban the latter first, the former would be covered already.

    Not that only teenagers are idiots, but also adults. The banning of idiocy would be all inclusive.

  104. Alan Fisher

    My 10 cents

    Why don't people pour R&D money into the whole automated driving on motorway/freeway thing? Think of the accidents which wouldn't happen, the money it would save.....

    then people could talk on the phone as much as they liked!

    until the day this is a possibility, then yes, no mobile use while driving! I've nearly been knocked off my bicycle by idiots yapping on the mobile (flaunting current laws) and paying no attention to the road.....makes me feel that enforcing the law should not be voluntary here!

  105. Tim Spence

    Safe roads

    When you already have safe roads, with every extra life you try to save, comes a higher cost in terms of restrictions on our freedom and liberties.

    We've reached a point now where we have among the safest roads in the world, so in trying to grab and save those remaining few (proportionally speaking) we are penalising and restricting ourselves more and more. The trick is finding a happy medium, but society can't deal with that, so always strives to have zero deaths and zero bad stuff happen anywhere.

    Unfortunately the only way to truly achieve zero deaths on the road, is to not have roads, and not have cars. With that in mind, if you're going to have roads and cars, you are going to have people getting in the way of them and cars bashing into each other.

    Yes yes, any and all deaths are sad (well, almost all), but we're approaching the point now where the restrictions on our freedom will outweigh the extra few lives saved each year.

    Police the laws we have already before creating more laws which are nigh on impossible to police.

  106. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    @ Donkey

    "If you want to reduce accidents raise the driving age to 30."

    Sorry but that's complete claptrap and possibly the most stupid idea I've heard in a long time. The high number of road accidents involving young people isn't down to them being young but rather the lack of experience younger drivers have (in general). Implementing such a stupid idea won't solve the "problem", it'll just raise the minimum age of inexperience. As it stands, a lot of accidents involve 17 to early 20-something year-olds because of their general lack of experience; raise the limit to 30 and all you'll achieve is a lot of accidents involving people in their early to mid 30s. Problem solved? Hardly.

    You don't solve a problem by moving the blame elsewhere.

    Paris because even she could think of something smarter.

  107. Martin

    @AC - driving age

    "The high number of road accidents involving young people isn't down to them being young but rather the lack of experience younger drivers have (in general)"

    Actually, no. Young people have accidents for two reasons. The first is the lack of experience. The second is because they're young. And the second is at least as important as the first. When you're nineteen, you get in the car with your mates or your girlfriend, and you want to show off. When you're thirty, you tend to have grown our of that.

    I'm not saying I agree that raising the driving age is a good idea, mind - but I do think it would indeed reduce accidents.

  108. Anonymous Coward

    @AC - driving age

    "The high number of road accidents involving young people isn't down to them being young but rather the lack of experience younger drivers have (in general)"

    My first first few years of driving were full of stupid, reckless showing-off (typical of a young male), resulting in several RTA's which could've caused serious injury. This wasn't unusual in my peer group, but those of us who survived became markedly more careful & skillful by 25yrs old.

    If we're serious about reducing accidents, either raise the driving age to 25 or limit younger drivers to 50bhp (with a power-to-weight ratio clause to stop rich kids buying kevlar rocketships).

  109. Ed
    Thumb Down


    they dont need to ban phones they need to ban morons, I was riding home a few months back and the car infront of me swerved two or three times, came so close to the safety barrier at one point I hit the anchors cause I thought they were crashing,...

    After seeing this i backed off, thinking it was a drunk driver on there way home from the city, this driver got off the motorway at the same exit as me and as i slide up the middle of the lanes waiting at the first stop light I looked accross at the driver...

    It was a 20 something chick and she was doing her makeup.

    This waste of oxygen put everyone including herself at risk so she could look pretty for her accident.

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