Mobile phone drivers put their foot in it

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The Independent Online
Drivers who use phones in the car have started to develop a new motoring technique - driving at 70mph without use of their hands while making complex business deals.

The decision to abandon traditional driving methods in favour of the legs and knees variety has prompted the police in the West Midlands to launch a crackdown on motorway drivers with dangerous mobile phone habits.

Examples of reckless driving captured by the police include a salesman who had his phone in one hand and an order book in another. Asked how he managed to control his vehicle, he replied: "I have developed the technique of driving with my knees."

Another man talking on his mobile on the motorway was having difficulty hearing so used his spare hand to cover his ear, leaving the front seat passenger to steer.

A lorry driver trundling along the motorway was filmed steering a 40- tonne truck with his left foot. His right leg was resting on the dashboard while his hands were concentrating on dialling.

Acting Superintendent Paul Austen, who is heading the clampdown for the West Midland Police, said: "The worst cases are often where the driver turns the car into an office. They have their papers spread out, their order book open, and they make deals on the phone. Watching where they are going seems a low priority."

He also tells of the case of a woman who was caught twice driving dangerously because she spent most of her time in the car arranging her seven children's lives by phone.

Supt Austen insists if any motorist is going to have a conversation they should pull over and stop the car. Police motorway patrols, some fitted with video cameras, are being used in the West Midlands to target offenders.

Earlier this month, the Government threatened to introduce tough new laws if motorists failed to stop using mobile telephones at the wheel.

The police currently have the power to charge motorists whose driving was affected by using a telephone, under existing offences such as careless or dangerous driving. Lawbreakers can face up to two years in jail plus a fine.