Mobile phone alert for drivers

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The Independent Online
DRIVERS should refrain from using hand-held mobile phones, the Government has warned. Baroness Hayman, the road safety minister, yesterday launched a campaign to wean motorists off them and published new guidelines on their use.

The guidelines, drawn up by the Federation of Communication Services, say that drivers should never hold a phone while driving. Ministers are keen to act now before phones in cars become so popular that drivers feel their rights are being infringed.

Although there were fewer that one million mobile phones in use in 1993, experts say that by 2003 there will be nearly 13 million- one for every two cars.

Changes to the design of many cars' interiors are on the way. Many manufacturers have been installing moulded arm-rest fittings to hold phones. Experts say these too can disturb concentration, but they are less likely to distract.

Many people argue mobile phones have become necessary for their work. Edmund King, a Royal Automobile Club spokes-man, agrees. "Used responsibly, they should cause no real distraction to the driver or danger to other road users," he said.