back to article Mobe-wielding drivers getting away with it

More people than ever are talking on their mobiles while driving, which is strange as the police have been handing out fewer and fewer fines over the last few years. The number of fines handed out has been dropped steadily over the last few years, despite the fact that roadside surveys claim that more people than ever are …


This topic is closed for new posts.
  1. JMB


    Always seems ironic to see a police officer driving a police car to call up for a check using his Airwave radio/terminal whilst pontificating about the dangers of using a phone whilst driving - Airwave sets are very similar to mobile phones.

    The police routinely check mobile phone records after an accident, is an automatic check made of the Airwave log when a police officer has an accident? Some police forces have a very high number of minor accidents in routine driving i.e. not on emergency calls. I always wonder how many are these are caused by the police officer using his Airwave set?

    (I know that the police can legally use an Airwave set whilst driving before anyone points it out)

    1. Martin

      Not comparing apples with apples...

      The difference is that police drivers are (a) massively more competent than the average driver and (b) trained to use Airwave and drive at the same time.

      1. Treker

        regarding your point (b)

        Why not simply train all drivers to safely use phones while driving? Surely if police can learn this, anyone can.

    2. peter 45

      reminds me

      of an story told to me by a radio ancillaries company who were approached by their local police to fit hands free kits to all their cars (in the days well before airwave)

      Apparently someone had been nicked for using a microphone whilst driving. During cross examination the policeman admitted that he has called in the stop using his microphone whist driving, and the magistrate had rightly pointed out that if the prosecution had continued, he would have been forced to find the policeman guilty of the very same offence the motorist has been stopped for.

      Proecution withdrew charges and handsfree kit was fitted to all police cars.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Safety Cameras?

    So what if safety camera partnerships have the power to snap drivers on the phone? I'd be impressed to see the camera that can detect a driver who is on the phone and not hands free.

    It's actually speed cameras that are the problem here, or rather the reliance thereon. You have almost no chance of being nicked for breaking any moving traffic law in the UK since the authorities just rely on cameras. Speeding? Run a red light? You're nicked, sonny. So long as there's a camera. Driving dangerously, carelessly, using a mobile, drunk? That's all fine because the cameras can't detect it. I remember back in the eighties when they first started using Gatsos in Nottinghamshire, at that time they were always going to be used in addition to traffic patrols but it hasn't panned out that way.

    1. jackharrer


      Make an offer: for a nice snap (or better, video) if fine is given you get a nice cut. Imaging all those teenagers playing police with their mobile phones. That would also teach morons who drive and chat on the mobile some manners.

      It would be even better to give access to motorway cameras so people can watch it and if they spot dangerous driving flag it so it automatically notifies police. Same thing, pay a cut for each fine and you'll have a legion of grandmas watching it instead of EastEnders.

      I think that would be much cheaper than police and there are many people who would be more than happy to do this.

      1. Eddy Ito
        Big Brother

        re: Crowdsourcing

        Can you believe it, I got nicked by my own mother... for taking _her_ call!

      2. Captain TickTock

        You've been framed!

        Who'd have thought it, eh?

        Mine's the one with extra large lapels.

  3. EvilGav 1

    Hang on . . .

    . . . does that mean that the cameras will now take a snap of *every* car that passes or just every car that passes where it looks like the person has hand-to-ear ??

    The former is a massive invasion of privacy and i'm not sure they can do that under the ECHR - snapping merrily away at people in the privacy of their own vehicle, when they cant be shown to be violating any law.

    The latter requires a software upgrade to all cameras - so another company will get to put their snout in the government IT trough.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Black Helicopters

      cameras already upgraded

      allegedly the speed etcetera cams were already hardware upgraded to provide real-time high quality digital feed. The upgrades started in Leeds/Bradford and spread out. I'm not sure that there's much privacy anywhere anymore!

      1. Anonymous Coward

        You forgot to mention why it has been used

        The primary reason is automatic number plate recognition and verification of tax and insurance statute of the car.

        Dunno about Leeds/Bradford, but with so many cameras with ANPR functionality on UK roads now it is a minor miracle that they have not been enabled for average speed enforcement and pay-as-you drive. The only reason I can think of is lack of back-end capacity. The cameras themselves are there and active 24x7x365.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The real reason... that catching people driving and talking on their phones doesn't pay well enough. The plods can make more money for less effort just catching people speeding, so that's where they concentrate.

  5. Anonymous Coward

    The cops don't give a ****

    The anti-moby-while-driving law is a joke. I regularly see rep's, builders, etc driving around with a prat phone welded to the ear (not literally - more's the pity), with cops driving past and studiously ignoring them.

    Heck, two weeks ago I got passed by one of Fife Constabulary's "finest" tanking down the m-way with Nokia held to ear. So if the cops are putting the fingers up, is anyone surprised when others do the same?

    New government needs to rationalise - LESS laws but BETTER enforced. And not just for mobiles ...

  6. The BigYin

    What do you expect?

    Labour decimated Traffic Police in favour of cameras. More revenue y'see.

    This is also why 60s are becoming 50s. They need the money rolling in.

    Safer roads? Not a priority, just money, money, money.

  7. Stratman


    It'll be interesting to see how the Revenue Raisers actually prove the driver was using a phone, as opposed to scratching her ear, for example.

  8. JimmyPage Silver badge


    this is one of my pet hates ... it's a rare day goes by when I don't see some idiot with their phone clamped to their ear ... or white van man ...

    I still think they should impound the vehicle on the spot.

    1. Frankly


      I say impound the vehicle on the spot and remove the driver's hand with a machete.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's true

    People are using mobiles more and more. On my daily commute I'd say around 10% of all drivers are gabbing on the phone, a smaller propotion are weaving all over the motorway trying to construct a text message. You can spot 'em a mile off.

    The problem is that if the police did take the time to stop and fine these people, there would be no time left for anything else. It'd take them hours to do the few miles of their round, the problem is so prevelant.

    Personally I'm not so fussed about people talking on the phone, but texting is shear lunacy.

  10. sig

    What about Stroking her Puppies while driving?

    I'm sure that wittering on the phone is less hazardous than what I witnessed this morning: lass driving with two puppies on her lap.

    1. A Non e-mouse Silver badge

      Seen worse

      I once saw a chav driving with a fag in one hand, and a mug (yes, a normal household mug) of tea (or coffee) in the other.

    2. Anonymous Coward


      For a second there I had a fantastic image in my head, and then I realised you meant 'small, young dogs'.

      Mine's the one with the mobile firmly in the pocket!

  11. andy gibson


    "massive Invasion of privacy"? You mean someone looking in your car windows? If you don't like it put some curtains up.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Since when has there been a right to privacy when in a public place?

  12. Dibbles


    I've been noticing more and more people talking on their mobiles while driving, and while this is partially self-selecting (I'm more likely to notice because I've noticed previously), it is good to see that there is finally a report illustrating just how little work traffic cops are doing these days.

  13. Captain TickTock


    The correlation between less fines issued, and increased mobile use while driving?

    Not really, unless you assume the level of enforcement has stayed the same...

    Or my irony detectors need tuning...

    Notice the fellow in the picture is hands-free...

  14. PsychicMonkey

    it's not so much the phone..

    that plod have a problem with. but if you use the camera function god help you!

  15. sandman

    Quick rant

    My favourite has to be the tosser trolley (4x4s) drivers around here who steer round blind corners with one hand firmly clamped to their ear. It's a little disconcerting to see a Range Rover/Cayenne/Volvo/Audi/Merc bearing down on you on the wrong side of the road while being driven by an oblivious tiny blonde who could do with a bolster cushion to see over the wheel. The blokes aren't any better.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      and a sticker on the rear window probably says 'Keep Hunting'. I just hope the next Government repeals the firearm ban so's I can do my bit!

  16. Richard Porter

    re: apples with apples

    "The difference is that police drivers are (a) massively more competent than the average driver and (b) trained to use Airwave and drive at the same time."

    Police driver training is not what it used to be, and is not given to every plod in a car. In any case it's not the physical use of the equipment that is the danger, but the distraction caused by thinking about the conversation. The law only targets use of hand-helds because that's what can fairly easily be enforced.

  17. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

    Camera unit can probably detect phone radio signal

    And has a fair chance of spotting that driver's lips are moving.

    I write as a cyclist who gets a thrill out of going past community speed-limit boards fast enough to get them to switch on (20 mph, limit is 30), which means looking for one that's on a downhill bit.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I'm Impressed

      Most of those community "slow down" jobbies aren't triggered by my motorbike, and i go past some of them a damn sight faster than the 30mph limit :)

      Anon - for obvious reasons

  18. David Neil
    Paris Hilton

    The one that really baffles me

    Muppet with mobile phone in left hand, reaching across to hold it to their right ear, whilst steering with their right hand.

    Like you don't have little enough control, without tying ourself in a knot

  19. Matthew Collier


    "The difference is that police drivers are (a) massively more competent than the average driver and (b) trained to use Airwave and drive at the same time."

    The very vast majority of "normal" Police officers receive mostly zero training. I once heard a senior copper state, we expect not to have to teach them how to write, so why do people expect us to have to teach them to drive".

    Police were once given Advanced Driver Training, but it's too expensive, you see....

  20. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    @Not comparing apples with apples

    So if I had a racing license I could speed - since I am more competent than an average driver?

    How long is the training course to use a radio while driving? Couldn't the mobile operators offer such a course to give their customers the same skills?

    1. phoenix

      @ Yet Another Anon

      No I would hope you would realise a by-directional track (the open road) is a damn sight more dangerous than a racing track and you would therefore drive more intelligently and not be pulling any of the moronic crap that others seem to feel is safe.

  21. Sweeping Brush

    Law in Ireland slightly different.

    In Ireland the offense is 'Holding a mobile phone while driving' and costs 2 penalty points

    You don't even have to be using it.

    From the April 2010 statistics almost 90,000 points were given out so over here its definitely being enforced.

    1. Anton Ivanov

      The offence is same elsewhere in EU

      That is the definition elsewhere in the EU as well. In some places it is the cops favourite one for pulling over so I carry a handsfree with me now when I travel.

  22. Anonymous Coward

    What if you obey the law and someone insists you take the call?

    I drive all over the place with work and frequently get hassle from the office because I don't answer calls while driving. My boss once told me that I should pick up the phone if it's the office, even while driving. I pointed out that he just committed an offence by inducing me to use the phone while driving. I asked if I could get a BT headset on expenses and he said no, so I carry on ignoring calls until I can pull over at my convenience, not theirs.

    @EvilGav1: There is no assumed privacy when you're driving your car on the public highway. That's how you can be watched by CCTV, TrafficMaster, ANPR, Gatsos, Truvelos, SPECS and mobile camera vans. I've seen a camera can operator in action and he clicks on *every* vehicle travelling in both directions. The system is recording video while in operation and prints a hard copy of the image capture if the speed is over ACPO guidelines (speed limit+10%+2mph). It is no extra effort to hit a button to print the last capture for prosecuting phone use.

    1. Oz


      You boss is a c*ck, and you should tell him so. Our company edict is that you take a call when it is safe to do so. If there's a lay-by you can scoot into then fine. Otherwise leave it and call them back - most numbers log on the phone after all

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Get it in writing

      Get your idiot boss to put that in writing, preferably on company letterhead. Then, should you be prosecuted you can produce that to the police and courts, it probably won't get your conviction quashed but there's a good chance it will result in your boss, and possibly the company, being prosecuted. Might even get him the sack.

    3. JimmyPage Silver badge

      your boss is a double cock

      I presume you work for a small man+dog outfit ? When they changed the law, my (then) employer had all managers attend a training course, and told in no uncertain terms the company would not require any employee to use a mobile without the appropriate equipment (i.e. BT) and that managers were responsible for ensuring they were careful about contacting employees on their mobiles, with a reminder that the *company* could be liable if a manager had pressurised an employee to use a HH mobile whilst driving.

      In addition all employees had to read and sign a statement that they were fully aware of the law, and would abide by it when driving on company business.

      Your boss is lining himself up for an interesting civil case, not to say possibly criminal too.

  23. Snark


    According to -

    The law applies to 'anyone who causes or permits any other person' to use a hand-held mobile phone while driving. Employers are not liable just because they supplied a telephone or because they phoned an employee who was driving. However, employers would probably be liable if they required their employees to use a hand-held phone while driving and might also be liable if they failed to forbid employees to use such phones on company business.

    So has your boss got a published mobile policy that forbids you from doing what he's told you to do (answer the phone)? If not, you might want to point out to him he could be liable under the law he is asking you to break...

  24. Neiljohnuk

    No surprise really...

    Saw a member of the serious crime unit in an unmarked car, possibly his own, in traffic the other day using a standard mobile, one rule etc...

    Still he had more control than the woman in her renal smegan senile on the M27 yesterday, drinking coffee with her right hand, changing gear with the left, or the festa driver doing her nails at 70 using 3 lanes at once. But when scameras are the easy answer and 'traffic divisions' have been replaced with scamera and 'accident investigation units'.

This topic is closed for new posts.

Other stories you might like