20 May 2007.
For immediate release.

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Press Release

Banning Activities Whilst Driving Will Not Address Bad Driving
…But Will Lead to Careful Drivers being Penalised in Ridiculous Circumstances

Following the ban on hand held mobile phones, the Local Authority Road Safety Officers' Association have recently called for a ban on smoking whilst driving.
The Association of British Drivers has long held the view that distracted driving is one of the biggest factors in road accidents and would certainly support effective measures to tackle the problem.
However, as ABD chairman Brian Gregory explains, the organisation does not believe individual bans on every distracting thing one can do in a car are the way to solve the problem:
"Almost everything one does in a car 'can' be dangerously distracting if not done in a sensible manner. This includes mobile phone use, smoking, eating, talking to passengers, dealing with disruptive children, tuning the radio, operating satnav, checking the speedometer to avoid being caught by speed cameras and even opening the windows or sunroof or picking one's nose!"
A separate legal ban for each and every one of these activities would be ridiculous, and would lead to a massive increase in frivolous prosecutions such as the woman fined for drinking from a water bottle at traffic lights and the use of a police helicopter to issue a ticket for eating an apple. Every practice listed 'can' be carried out in a safe manner and indeed is every day on our roads by responsible drivers who choose the correct moments to do these things.
What is needed is a crackdown, not on individual practices but on any drivers carrying out ANY practice in an irresponsible or dangerous manner. No new laws are needed for this, we have had laws in place for decades designed for precisely this scenario. The offences of careless or dangerous driving, driving without due care and attention or not being in proper control can be applied to every dangerous incident without penalising responsible drivers yet prosecutions using these laws is at an all time low since misguided road safety chiefs replaced traffic officers with cameras or encouraged them to concentrate solely on numerical speed limit excesses".
ABD spokesman Nigel Humphries comments:
"Bans on individual practices are unlikely to stop the irresponsible as evidenced by the number of drivers still negotiating complex hazards whilst using hand held mobiles. All that will be achieved is needless prosecutions of drivers using phones or smoking where the police can easily catch them, such as in slow moving traffic queues where no danger is caused. There is also the potentially dangerous side effect that some drivers may believe that if something isn't banned it must be safe."
The ABD has frequently called for increased police patrols on the roads concentrating on irresponsible and dangerous road users rather than non dangerous cases of speed limit excesses.


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