Using your mobile phone while driving ... it’s not on

There has been lots in the news about how tougher penalties are needed to deal with drivers who use their mobile phones while at the wheel.

I read with interest reports in a couple of the broadsheets how one chief constable has said tougher penalties are being ignored to keep voters happy, pre-election.

Although I agree something needs to be done to address this issue as soon as possible, I don’t necessarily agree this issue is being ignored in order not to rock the boat with voters with unpopular penalties before May’s General Election. I just think the issue has been ignored and is continuing to be ignored as we no longer have the resources to monitor who is using their mobile while driving. The necessary enforcement to ensure people do not commit this offence has never been forthcoming with the intensity needed.

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While out driving the other day, I was appalled by the number of motorists I saw using their mobile phone while driving. On one four-mile journey along country roads in the Ribble Valley I clocked two people using their mobiles while driving. In both instances, they were men driving a white van and going at, what I consider, to be quite a high speed while negotiating sharp bends and holding their phone to their ear.

I was angry when the first van passed by so by the time the second van passed by I was livid. In my mind this crime is as bad as speeding drivers who demonstrate complete disregard for other road users and pedestrians.

That same week though, by coincidence, I saw a third driver, this time female, “driving” – a description I use in the loosest sense of the word – her black Audi. She was approaching a junction and I was stood at the roadside with a clear view of this young woman who I presume was texting on her mobile phone. The top of her head, not her eyes, faced the windscreen and she did not look up once until she eventually reached the junction.

I was totally flabbergasted by what I had seen. If anything had run out in front of her car at that time, lets say a child as the junction she was at is close to three Clitheroe schools, she would have been none the wiser.

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How sad that a recent survey which found more people are likely to be sending texts or using social media than making calls when using their mobile phones while driving could be right. Maybe now is just the time, pre-election, to make it clear to our politicians that action is needed fast!

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