Car Telephones

Oral Answers to Questions — Transport – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 14th March 1988.

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Photo of Sir David Amess Sir David Amess , Basildon 12:00 am, 14th March 1988

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what recent representations he has received regarding the road safety implications of the use of car telephones.

Photo of Peter Bottomley Peter Bottomley Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)

None. In simple terms, if one can afford a car telephone, one can afford a hands-free microphone. It is not safe to hold a telephone when driving.

Photo of Sir David Amess Sir David Amess , Basildon

Is my hon. Friend aware that concerns have been expressed following the practice of drivers using telephones while proceeding along motorways or turning corners? Does he agree that such practices are dangerous? Is he satisfied that the present law would meet those points, because I am not?

Photo of Peter Bottomley Peter Bottomley Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)

The answer is yes. However, I welcome the opportunity of repeating the advice in the Highway Code which is: do not use a hand-held telephone when driving.

Photo of Mr Tony Banks Mr Tony Banks , Newham North West

May I tell the Minister that anyone in a car who is holding a telephone and talking into it looks a right wally anyway? Before becoming too involved in the subject, will the Minister tell us what evidence he has, if any, of accidents that have occurred as a result of people driving and using a telephone at the same time? Is there any empirical evidence?

Photo of Peter Bottomley Peter Bottomley Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)

There is anecdotal evidence. A BBC radio taxi was taking me to a high hill in Guildford and, with a hand on the microphone, the driver went through a red light.

Photo of Mr Jeremy Hanley Mr Jeremy Hanley , Richmond and Barnes

If my hon. Friend's criterion for the use of a hands-free set is the fact that it is not safe to use a telephone in the hand in the car, will he take steps to ban smoking in cars?

Photo of Peter Bottomley Peter Bottomley Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)

Wiser politicians than I have said that one needs to work by common agreement whenever possible. There is common agreement on the dangers of holding a telephone when driving a car.