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Mobile phone stores ‘not explaining driving risks’

Motorists urged to change their mobile habits


Mobile phone retailers are generally failing to fully explain to customers the dangers of using a hand-held device when driving, an RAC Foundation survey revealed today.

All retailers surveyed told buyers the use of hand-held mobiles while driving was illegal but few revealed the risks, the survey found.

One retailer advised those illegally using a mobile to throw the device down if police were spotted.

Also, only two of the 60 stores surveyed had leaflets about safe phone use.

Mobile ban

The results come just a few days before penalties for using hand-held mobiles while driving are increased.

The survey of mobile phone stores found:

  • only one in three explained that the ban was introduced because using a hand-held phone at the wheel can be distracting
  • just 20 per cent explained that drivers face an increased risk of being involved in an accident while using a hand-held phone
  • only 5 per cent advised that talking on a hands-free phone can also increase the risk of being involved in an accident
  • a quarter of retailers advised the RAC Foundation researchers that Bluetooth headsets would allow motorists to talk and drive safely at the same time. The foundation is concerned that this understates the risk of trying to make calls while driving.

Penalty points

It has been illegal to use a hand-held mobile behind the wheel since December 2003, but around 500,000 motorists break this law every day. From February 27, offenders will face a £60 fine and three penalty points on their licences.

RAC Foundation Executive Director Edmund King said: ‘Motorists need to change their mobile habits. From next week motorists could be getting penalty points in the post from police spotting them using hand-held mobiles.

‘The best advice is to switch off the phone in the car as new research has shown that even using a hands-free phone can increase the risk of a crash.

‘If drivers must make or take calls they must be hands-free, must use only pre-programmed numbers and must be short and simple conversations. Drivers, employers and callers must take this seriously.

‘Our survey shows that some mobile phone retailers could do more to explain the risks drivers run when they try to chat and drive at the same time.’

Another survey out today, from insurance company Direct Line, revealed that more than 500 motorists were spotted using hand-held mobiles at the wheel in a week-long investigation in 11 towns.

The highest proportion of offenders was found in Cardiff, where 13 per cent of motorists flouted the law.

The researchers also noted that drivers of 4x4s were most likely to take a call, followed by white van drivers and prestige-motor owners. Drivers of taxis and lorries were the least likely to use a mobile phone.

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