As bad as drink driving? Manchester’s verdict on call to ban drivers on mobiles

Drivers who use their mobile phones while at the wheel should be banned from the road and an absence of proper penalties makes it socially acceptable to text at the wheel, Britain’s top traffic officer said this week.

Gloucestershire chief constable Suzette Davenport believed ministers were too scared of losing votes in May’s election to act against the estimated 500,000 motorists who break the law every day – with the current penalty standing at a £100 fine plus three licence points. 

Research showed that motorists who refuse to turn off their phones are up to four times as likely to crash than those who are concentrating on the road and those using a hand-held phone took half a second longer to react to an emergency – amounting to an extra 48 yards of stopping distance.

With this in mind, MM took to the streets and asked:

Should drivers caught using their mobile phones be banned from driving?

72% 28%


Charlotte Dougal, a 21-year-old student at Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU), believed it was acceptable to use your phone while driving, depending on the circumstances. 

“It all depends on how you’re using your phone in my opinion – if you have it in your hand and have it on loudspeaker that’s perfectly OK,” she said.

“I wouldn’t ever consider driving with the phone by my ear however. 

“If it was an emergency I wouldn’t hesitate to use my phone whilst driving, I think that would always be acceptable.”

CIRCUMSTANCES: Charlotte Dougal believed drivers could use their phones in an emergency

Jonathon Scott had a similar view and thought that banning drivers who used their phone at the wheel would be ‘harsh’.

He said: “I can’t see too many problems with checking your phone for two seconds while on a quiet road or at a red light.

“I’d never consider answering a phone whilst driving, however, I see people doing that sometimes and it drives me mad.”

HARSH: Jonathon Scott didn’t agree with banning drivers using their phones

Ben Jones, a 22-year-old student at MMU, held the same viewpoint.

He said: “I don’t see texting while driving anywhere near as extreme as drink-driving.

“If technology advances to the point where all cars have a regulated hands-free for mobiles, then actually operating a phone whilst driving will become redundant.”

EXTREME: Ben Jones said drink-driving was a lot worse than texting

Emmiima Korpela, an international student from Finland, believed that banning drivers who used their phones would be ‘ridiculous’. 

The 24-year-old said: “Drinking and driving is far more dangerous than using your phone at the wheel. 

“I have a sister who lives a very busy lifestyle and has always used her phone whilst driving and she has never had any problems or been in any accidents.”

RIDICULOUS: Emmiima Korpela said drink-driving was far more dangerous

Jay Rasheed from Milton Keynes, believed that introducing stricter punishment for drivers who use their phones at the wheel was the correct way to proceed.

The 22-year-old Medical Centre team leader said: “I’ve never done it myself and simply can’t stand to be in the car when the driver is on their phone, even if it’s one my friends driving.”

CORRECT: Jay Rasheed felt stricter punishments needed introducing

Helen Slinger, a 47-year-old accountant, also welcomed the introduction tougher penalties.

She said: “ I still see a lot of people driving with a phone stuck next to their ear. It’s clear that the current policies aren’t working, so tougher sentencing makes sense.”

INEFFECTUAL: Helen Slinger said current policies weren’t working

Steve Merry from Reddish, who has never driven a car before, believed that drink driving and using a phone were as bad as each other and a ban should apply in both cases.

He said: “We still have problems of drink and drug driving which is a much more potent threat on the roads. 

“We should have even tougher sentences on drink driving, never mind driving with your phone.

“A six-month prison sentence should be mandatory – you’ve got to stick to principles.”

PRISON: Steve Merry believed offenders should receive a six-month sentence

Image courtesy of Lord Jim, with thanks.

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