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Police nick 460 a day for using mobiles while driving

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More than 168,000 people were fined for using a mobile phone when driving in 2006, a rise of 30 per cent on the previous year.

The figures were released today by the UK Justice Department, according to The Telegraph, and show that despite the fact it's been illegal to use a mobile phone while driving without a hands-free kit since 2003, it's taking a long time for drivers to get used to the idea.

Tory Party spokesman for roads Robert Goodwill told The Telegraph: "This is a damning indictment of Labour's failure to clamp down on drivers who repeatedly flout the law... Labour's heavy reliance on speed cameras as a cash cow instead of actually properly policing the roads is being exposed."

Quite how catching more people using mobile phones, and for careless driving, exposes a reliance on speed cameras isn't made clear, but the conviction of Mr Goodwill is to be respected.

The Telegraph also notes that these days police routinely check records to see if anyone involved in an accident was on the phone at the time; though unless the handset is still clasped in their cold, dead fingers, it's not clear how they establish if a hands-free kit was in use.

Gathering statistics on the number of people having accidents while on the phone, even with a hands-free set, is still a useful exercise.

There are unanswered questions about the degree to which talking on the phone distracts the driver, and it will take a few more years of stats before we know the true scale of the risks we're taking. ®

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