This entry was posted on Tuesday, June 2nd, 2009 at 11:27 am and is filed under Bad motoring. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.
I grabbed the shot above in London last year. Seeing drivers chatting on their phones is not unusual. It’s a deplorable, dangerous practice that impairs concentration. Perhaps worse, though, is the act of texting while driving. This requires both lack of concentration and an eyes-down technique that has death written all over it. Sadly, the death is usually of some unwitting person who comes into the path of the driving texter, as has been shown in numerous death-by-texting ‘accidents’ over recent years.
The other day - while a passenger in a car - I witnessed a driver texting on the M1. He was on the inside lane, no doubt going a little slower than usual for “safety”. As we drew parallel to him I could see him fiddling with his phone, looking down at the keyboard and screen, and bobbing eyes-front now and again to make sure he was roughly in the same lane he was in before he started texting.
As we were overtaking (I asked my wife to get well away from such a dangerous driver) I didn’t have time to take a photograph. Anyway, had I done so he might have wobbled and crashed; or chased after us to show his displeasure at being caught on camera.
Such unthinking morons text away from motorways, too. They kill. Texting while driving is not yet as socially unacceptable as drink-driving, but the sooner it is, the better.
I’m no huge fan of the No 10 Downing Street petition site. It’s toothless (Gordon Brown has not resigned, despite a popular request asking him to) and more of a diversion than a tool for democratic change. But it’s a focal point for campaigners and can bring out the best in their prose.
Allan Ramsey, for instance, has penned some of his best stuff thanks to his ‘mobile menace’ petition. It’s now got 1100+ signatories, a far cry from the tens of thousands of petrolheads who have signed a petition asking for speed limits not to be dropped.
We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to introduce driving ban and phone confiscation, if not car confiscation, for drivers caught using/holding mobile phone - potentially lethal weapon.
Ramsey campaigns for Roadpeace and is an inveterate letter writer, getting his views published in numerous local newspapers and cycle magazines. He also emails bike editors like myself. Part of his latest email is carried below. Whatever you think of his tactics, he talks a lot of sense.
Since reading the story about Leigh [Dolby's] death, I have been deeply troubled. But then which cyclist wouldn’t have been?
Leigh was a very experienced, capable and responsible cyclist. On August 30, 2007, Leigh’s life came to an abrupt, a tragic, an undignified and senseless end. While training for a 225 mile charity ride, which he’d planned to celebrate his 55th birthday just two days later, he was hit from behind by a driver. Why? Was it because his killer was otherwise engaged – composing and texting trivial-trash on his hand-held mobile phone?
Instead of looking at the road ahead, as one is supposed to do by law, especially when driving at a speed which can kill, which basically amounts to any speed, was Leigh’s killer looking down towards his knees, trying to focus on a tiny little screen and composing useless information by pressing tiny little buttons?
Despite admitting to driving dangerously, Thomas Duffield was found guilty of the much lesser crime of causing death by careless driving, and was subsequently sentenced to just 12-months in jail. To make matters worse, when Leigh’s family appealed that the sentence was too lenient, the Lord Chief Justice in his wisdom ruled: Not at all!
When Labour peer Lord Ahmed was involved in a fatal collision not too long ago, the judge ruled that although the records showed he had been texting in the moments just prior to the collision, because it couldn’t be proved that he was actually texting at the moment of impact, the incident could not be considered to be one of causing death by dangerous driving. Consequently, Lord Ahmed was found guilty of just dangerous driving - no death to answer to - and [not] jailed accordingly.
However, he instantly appealed against the decision, and after serving just 16 days of a very lenient 12 weeks, he was released – with a huge smile on his face. Not so the family of his 28-year-old victim. Isn’t life in the UK dirt cheap?
Now though, new sentencing guidelines are calling on judges to consider up to seven years jail for drivers causing death by texting. What we really need are much tougher sentences for drivers who simply just use a mobile phone, in fact, even just holding one whilst driving is dangerous.
Anyone who is as troubled and as fearful as I am about drivers who ignore the mobile phone ban, and would like to see the current £60 fine and three penalty points replaced by phone and car confiscation (so that innocent lives aren’t confiscated) plus a driving ban, (as with drink driving), then they should petition on-line.