Off With Their Hands!

They should be grateful we’re not living in Saudi. If we were, they would probably have their hands cut off and I, for one, would not object. I’m not referring to petty thieves – or even the corporate thieves like our bankers and lawyers – but to people who drive and talk on their mobile phones without using their hands-free kits.

What is wrong with these people? Run a red light, overtake me on a dangerous bend, speed if you absolutely must but for God’s sake, put down your blasted phone when you are driving.

Do they think they have special powers denied the rest of us mere mortals? Do these people think that the laws on driving while using a mobile phone don’t apply to them because they are such fantastic, talented drivers that they can do both?

Because if that is what they think, they should have their licences permanently revoked on the grounds that they are delusional and, therefore, a threat to the rest of the road users.

Yesterday was a typical morning. I took the kids to school, drove around to my sister’s, drove her to work and drove home. In total, it was a round trip of about 20 miles undertaken from 8.40am until 10.30am. On that trip, I counted no fewer than 27 drivers who were on their phones and driving at the same time. Most notably, was a man in a truck who was stopped, waiting to turn right onto the motorway at Maynooth. I had had to stop to allow the person in front of me turn left in order to get on the motorway. So I stayed stopped and motioned to the man in the truck that I was allowing him to turn. He couldn’t complete the manoeuvre immediately, however, because he was on the phone!

Maybe I encountered so many phone-drivers because I live on the Dublin-Kildare border, where people are more likely to use their phones while driving

According to the UK Department for Transport, you are four times more likely to crash while driving and talking on your phone.

Just like drink-driving, there is no excuse for this behaviour – unless you’re calling the fire services, the Gardaí or an ambulance in reaction to a genuine accident (not one you’ve caused because you were driving while on the phone).  This is also not a new law – it was introduced on September 01, 2006.  The penalty for driving and using a phone without a hands-free kit is two points on your licence and a fine not to exceed €2,000.

Obviously, this is not enough of a deterrent when you see the amount of people rabbiting on roundabouts, overtaking while orating, and speeding while speaking on their mobile phones.

Obviously, the penalties currently in place are no disincentive, so I propose something slightly more creative.  Every person caught driving while on their mobiles should be forced to spend a week going about their daily business with one hand tied behind their backs. That should do it.