MOBILES WORSE THAN
Talking on a
mobile phone while driving is more dangerous than being over the legal alcohol
limit, according to research. Tests by scientists at the Transport Research
Laboratory said drivers on mobiles had slower reaction times and stopping times
than those under the influence of alcohol. And it said hands-free kits were
almost as dangerous as hand-held phones.
Using a hand-held mobile while driving is illegal in
more than 30 countries, but in the UK drivers are usually prosecuted
for dangerous or careless driving.
"The problem is you actually get sucked into the
telephone conversation, and the conversation starts to take precedence over the
driving task," , a researcher said.
The research said reaction times were, on average, 30%
slower when talking on a mobile than when just over the legal limit, and nearly
50% slower than when driving normally. Drivers were also less able to maintain
a constant speed and found it more difficult to keep a safe distance from the
car in front.
Janet Anderson, Member of Parliament , is currently
trying to push a bill through which would prohibit the use of hand-held mobile
phones while driving. The second reading is expected to take place on 12 April.
Ms Anderson said: "We must all recognise that driving and using mobile
phones can kill. It takes less than a second for a lapse in concentration to
result in an accident." "It must therefore be made crystal clear to
drivers who insist on behaving in this way that they endanger the safety of the
public generally, and their own safety too. "