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Drivers on the phone face the slammer

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New guidelines from the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) mean that drivers on the phone could face two years in prison, as prosecutors may decide to push for a Dangerous Driving conviction which carries the stiffer penalty, according to the BBC.

Using a non-hands-free mobile phone when driving has been illegal in the UK since 2003, and the fine was doubled from 30 quid to 60 earlier this year, but that's still not stopping those whose calls are too important to wait.

So the government decided on a change in policy in September, which is reflected in the latest CPS guidance and means that a driver who has been driving dangerously could face a conviction on the grounds of Dangerous Driving.

Quite why this requires a change in guidance isn't clear. Perhaps the CPS were taking dangerous drivers to court and, where they were on the phone, letting them off with a small fine and a few points?

The BBC also reports that FirstGroup, who run various bus and train companies, has banned all their staff from using mobile phones when driving, even with hands-free equipment, as research seems to indicate that drivers lose concentration even when they've got both hands on the wheel.

In the UK we kill about ten people a day on our roads, and that's considered amongst the best in the world (largely 'cos we wear seatbelts), but there's little point in passing laws or changing guidance unless there's someone to enforce them. So until Gatso can catch a driver with a phone in their hand, it seems unlikely such changes are going to make a big difference. ®

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