PEOPLE who use mobile phones while driving in their cars annoy me. They are selfish and a hazard to other road users.
I have seen them in heavy traffic around town, on urban roads going past schools at home time, on the motorway phone tucked under one ear, one hand holding a cup of coffee and the other lazily on the wheel.
Using a mobile while driving is a criminal offence. It can bring a £60 fixed penalty fine. If taken to court, the fine can be as much as £1,000 plus disqualification (from driving, not using a mobile).
It is seen as a minor social indiscretion that many commit every day and it only gets publicity when it results in a road accident.
A recent survey found it is increasing. One in four drivers say they break the law at least once a month by using their phone while behind the wheel. In the 12 months up to October 2011, more than 200,000 drivers were fined for the offence. And yet it continues.
There are two answers to this mobile problem in an age when everyone seems to have their ear glued to a Samsung or Nokia half their waking hours. When in a car switch it off or use a hands free kit.
South Africa has stricter laws. Drivers can be fined £40 but they can also be jailed for up to three years.
Police in Cape Town, fed up of the practice, have launched a new initiative against motorist mobile phone users.
They stop the drivers, warn them and let them go. If they do it again, they confiscate the phone for 24 hours.
I think we can find a happy medium between the UK and South African codes that would solve the problem once and for all.
Stop the drivers, warn them and let them go. If they do it again, confiscate the phone and smash it while they watch. If they get another phone and do it again, confiscate their car. Permanently. Sell it at auction and any cash raised can go to road safety.
Pretty soon, all mobile phone users will have hands-free kits. And those who have lost their cars can talk as long as they like on their mobiles as they catch the bus.