This dangerous practice has attracted some attention in the newspapers of late: for example, Motorists’ anger at plummeting mobile-phone convictions in The Telegraph. But the only solution anyone seems to have canvassed is increasing the fines or driving bans that the courts can hand down.
The trouble is, increasing the penalty has not worked. Penalties for using a mobile phone while driving were increased a few weeks ago, and the number of convictions has pretty much stayed the same.
The penalty for using a mobile phone, of course, should be temporary or permanent confiscation of the phone. This is obvious to any parent or teacher who has become exasperated by watching a child texting and yapping on the phone instead of making their own bed or doing arithmetic. But the long term solution to this serious road safety problem comes from a completely different direction.
Some futuristic engineers see the solution in driverless cars. Obviously, if your car is driverless, you will be able to use a mobile phone just as if you were aboard a bus or a train. When driverless cars are finally put to work on the streets I am sure that the roads will be safer than at any time since the invention of the motor car. But driverless cars are a long way in the future, and in the mean time I see the solution in subscriberless phones. These revolutionary telephones will sense the movement of the car, and immediately start phoning people and holding trivial and unnecessary conversations along the lines of ‘Hello darling, I’ll be working late at the office,’ ‘Happy birthday,’ ‘Does the dog have enough tinned food,’ ‘Eric’s feeling a bit poorly so I gave the stuff to Myra,’ and so forth.
By keeping up an autonomous torrent of inane conversation with friends, the subscriberless phone will free its owner to concentrate on the road ahead.