Monday, 9 May 2011

Hands free!

Here in UK, for a few years now, it has been illegal to use your mobile phone while driving (unless you use a hands-free kit).  Of course it doesn't stop people doing it.  The thing that fascinates me is the way people's attitudes are so inconsistent.  So often they go into 'righteous indignation mode' when they see someone with one hand on the wheel and the other holding the phone to their ear, and then do something else much more dangerous themselves.

Personally I think the new law relating specifically to mobiles was not necessary.  It is the leglislative state gone mad.  There were already perfectly good laws about 'driving without due care and attention', and introducing a law about phones somehow legitimises other things.  However, the law is the law. 

What about similar activities?  Eating, even unwrapping sweets, while driving is legal (I think), whereas drinking while driving is not.  I'm not talking about imbibing alcohol but the consumption of other potable fluids.  I remember a case a few years ago where someone was prosecuted for drinking Coca Cola from a bottle while in the driver's seat with the engine running.  She was actually stationary in a long queue at a red traffic light, with the hand brake on.  What's the harm?  This seems like legal nonsense and over-officious policing.  (I resist the temptation to criticise the police as I know I will be told off by one of my loyal readers - but cases like this do make me feel a little cross.) 

Smoking is legal, even though presumably one must find it quite distracting to light up.  How many hands are needed?  And the fact that you are then in possession of something hot must be a potential distraction worse than a phone.  Changing a CD or a radio station is also condoned.

Perhaps worst of all though is the nearly ubiquitous GPS navigation system.  People have often assured me that they are much safer driving with GPS than with the old-fashioned system that I still use (namely MAPS).  But then they start to programme it while driving along.  Aaaaarrrggghhh!  They might as well be watching a movie while driving.

One day I was in a car with two friends (a couple at the time) and they both had their GPS systems running.  We reached a T-junction and his (in a female voice) suggested turning left, while hers (in a male voice) proposed right.  My map could have come to the rescue but it was more fun to watch what happened.  (I don't think that is why they are no longer a couple!)

One final thought.  I have often wondered about hands-free kits.  What would happen if I was holding my hands-free kit to my ear while driving?  Surely it would be perfectly legal?



I have absolutely no issue with anyone criticising the police when the police behave like asses.

What I dislike is sweeping statements like 'the police are corrupt, brutal, stupid'. Some are. Many are not. Many of them are in that profession to help, to save, to reassure. Sadly, however, you rarely hear about them.

Clear enough?

Plasma Engineer said...

Just glad to have a loyal reader who helps to keep some of my comments less outrageous. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Police are merely robots, it's the government that's corrupt. True, we don't hear much about the good deeds that some do but your opinion in reality is vise versa, the "good pigs" are very few.

Anyways, this article is spot on. I was an avid cell phone using driver and never had any problems but I completely agree with the law because I see that many are not capable of such multitasking. It is ridiculous that the other driving distractions you mentioned are not against the law, especially smoking cigarettes. Disgusting habit on its own but when I see someone light up with their windows up, I can't help but vomit into my mouth a little.