Question: can the traffic laws be an aid to romance?

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The Independent Online

Last week, it became illegal to drive and handle a mobile phone at the same time, and many of you are understandably confused by the implications of this new situation. So today we will be answering all your questions about the new laws governing the use of mobile phones in cars. And now to the first question, please...

Q. If it's going to be illegal to drive while using a mobile, will this mean that it will also be illegal to use a mobile phone while riding a horse?

A. Yes, I'm afraid so. All traffic laws that apply to vehicles also apply to the riding of a horse. You can, for instance, already be found guilty of being drunk in charge of a horse. So if you were caught using a mobile on a horse, the normal penalties would apply.

Q. No, they wouldn't.

A. What do you mean, no, they wouldn't ?

Q. Well, if you're drunk in charge of a car, you'll get penalty points on your licence, or, more likely, be banned altogether. However, you don't need a licence to ride a horse, and you can't be banned from horse-riding, so the normal penalties wouldn't apply.

A. Look, I'm meant to be providing the answers and you're meant to be asking the questions. You might at least ask a question.

Q. ...So the normal penalties wouldn't apply, would they ?

A. No. You're right. I'm sorry.

Q. Would it be legal for a horse-rider to use a mobile phone while fox-hunting?

A. Good question. Yes, that would be perfectly legal.

Q. Why ?

A. Because traffic laws (including the ban on using mobiles while driving) only refer to traffic on public highways, and fox-hunting takes place almost exclusively on private land, so people hunting foxes - on private land - are not subject to traffic laws.

Q. Except when going over main roads?

A. Well, yes.

Q. So, if a hunter was on a horse and using a mobile phone, and then crossed from one field to another over a public road, albeit a B road, for those 10 seconds or so while in transit across the road she is actually breaking the law?

A. Why do you say "she"?

Q. Just answer the questions. I'm Q. You're A.

A. OK. Yes, for that 10 seconds, he or she would be breaking the law.

Q. And I could make a citizen's arrest on her while she's crossing the road?

A. You could try. But people on horses are about six feet higher than you are, which makes it very difficult. Indeed, you might cause yourself an injury. Even worse, you might cause the horse an injury. Then you would have to phone for help, and if you didn't have a mobile, you'd have to ask the horsewoman if you could borrow her phone. Which might be rather embarrassing for her.

Q. You don't know Yvonne. She's never embarrassed by anything.

A. Yvonne?

Q. She's the woman I want to arrest.

A. And why do you want to arrest her?

Q. Because she is big and strong and masterful, and I am in love with her, and she refuses to take any notice of me, and she keeps saying that there isn't enough law and order in this country, and when was the last time anyone made a citizen's arrest? So I thought I would make a citizen's arrest on her when she was out hunting, and that would make her wake her ideas up about me!

A. Hmm. But how do you know she will be using her mobile at the very moment she is crossing the road and, therefore, doing something illegal momentarily?

Q. Because I will ring her on her mobile just before she crosses and she will have to answer it.

A. And where, pray, will you be?

Q. I will be following her on a mountain bike. Oh, I hadn't thought of that. What is the law governing the use of a mobile on a bicycle?

I am sorry. This free advice service has been entirely monopolised by a frivolous nuisance caller. We will try again some other time.

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