January 22, 2007 8:35 AM PST

U.K. to get tougher on chatty drivers

British drivers who insist on babbling away on handheld cell phones are facing a further crackdown as the government attempts to rid the U.K.'s roads of the dangerous practice.

Starting February 27, motorists will face the threat of getting three points on their license as well a fine of about $118 (60 pounds).

"Research shows that talking on a mobile phone while driving affects your concentration and ability to react to dangerous situations," said Douglas Alexander, the U.K. Transport secretary. "It's quite simple. It's impossible to do two things at once and do them well."

A U.K. law outlawing driving while using a handheld mobile phone took effect in December 2003, resulting in the issuing of 74,000 tickets during the first full year, but many drivers are still flouting the rules.

"Worryingly, while 92 percent of people agree with the law, 21 percent of drivers admit to breaking it," Alexander added.

On Monday, the government also launched a new awareness campaign to drive home the message to motorists.

Will Sturgeon of Silicon.com reported from London.

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2 comments

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Points on the licence
In the U.K. some motoring offences get you points on your licence. Too many points in too short a time get you banned for driving for a while.

It would be good to have some sort of official diapproval here in the U.S. Maybe a huge flashing light on top of the SUV (it's almost always an SUV) with the driver subject to a 50 mph limit in the slow lane, or maybe a jolt through the seat if the call goes on for too long.

And who do these people call? Each other?
Posted by Ars Venture (11 comments )
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They call
Their significant others. Frequently I see females (And no, I'm not isolating them, just making a statement) where they are clearly talking to some guy.

For me it's not that they're on the phone. It's that they refuse to use a Bluetooth headset or some other handsfree option. At least that way they could keep both hands on the wheel. Instead they use the OPPOSITE hand to hold the phone while steering and attempting to look, nearly causing accidents almost every time.

IN San Diego, it's a HUGE issue.
Posted by ReVeLaTeD (755 comments )
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