HC Deb 14 March 1988 vol 129 c842
3. Mr. Amess

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.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport (Mr. Peter Bottomley)

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.

Mr. Amess

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?

Mr. Bottomley

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.

Mr. Tony Banks

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?

Mr. Bottomley

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.

Mr. Hanley

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?

Mr. Bottomley

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.