Road safety campaigners dream of giving mobile phone use and speeding the same stigma that attaches to drink driving. If someone were to boast that they routinely drank four pints* then drove home they would neither win friends nor influence people (except perhaps to shun them), yet it seems to be perfectly legitimate to villainise speed cameras and admit to texting on the motorway.
Such a conversation will now usually be met by the other party relating the news that use of a mobile phone will land you in prison for two years – this is untrue, and all it represents is that prosecutors have been told to treat it as dangerous instead of careless driving. This will only become an issue if your mobile phone use is actually affecting your driving, and you’re only likely to see prison if the effect is ploughing into a bus queue. Criminal law is not my area of expertise however, and you’d do well to read these observations.
Employers should, if they’re careful, issue a dictat against illegal phone use by employees. This may go some way to save them from a prosecution themselves – entirely possible if they’ve ’caused or permitted’ the offence in the first place. No doubt if a company also routinely required their employees to answer their mobile phones while driving, a Health & Safety conviction wouldn’t be out of the question either.
*bizarrely enough (and strictly OT), four pints is the official level at which it becomes binge drinking, and therefore the level which the government campaign for people to stay underneath. I think that a campaigner asking some rowdy lads on a Saturday to stick to three pints is pissing into the wind, and I’d be surprised if four is enough in most people to trigger the public urination / assaults on police officers problem so enjoyed by TV programme makers. I’m not saying that it’s good for you, or OK, to drink more than that (although I’ve enjoyed doing so on occasion), just that if you take what is currently fairly average consumption, and attach the label ‘binge’ to it, then you just devalue the entire label and people stop listening to you at all. If they’d any sense they’d launch a national campaign telling boozy thick-necked men called Darren that ten (or maybe even twelve) units should be their limit on a night out. This equates to five or six pints, enough to get lary and have a good time, but not enough to be sick all over someone else’s shoes then pre-emptively punch him in the face.
It’s not ideal, but at least it would be a clear and achievable guideline, something health campaigners seem utterly unable to produce.