HUDDERSFIELD campaigners today called for an outright ban on the use of all mobile phones in cars.

Safety group Brake made its demand in advance of new laws banning drivers using hand-held mobiles while at the wheel.

Police have warned they will get tough with anyone who flouts the new legislation which comes into operation next Monday.

Hands-free phone kits are flying out of the shops as drivers prepare.

Brake spokesman Simon Collister said the Government should go further and stop all mobile phones being used in cars - whether hands-free or not.

He said: "Research by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents shows that it is the conversation that causes crashes, not holding the mobile phone, because people's attention is diverted.

"The significant difference between a conversation with a passenger and a conversation with someone on a mobile phone is that the passenger can shut up when they see a distraction.

"We welcome the Government action, but we want tougher penalties introduced."

Motorists who flout the new law face fines of up to £1,000.

Ministers also plan to introduce penalty points next year for drivers who break the law.

Keith Scott, general manager of car parts retailer Halfords, said demand for the hands-free fitting service had doubled as the deadline looms.

"It is not only private motorists, but also company fleets who are coming to us as businesses realise that the onus is on them to ensure that their employees stay legal and safe if they are expected to use a company phone whilst in their cars, vans or lorries," he said.

Huddersfield traffic police officer Julie Allison said motorists seen using hand-held mobile phones while driving would be stopped.

At present drivers can only be prosecuted for not being in proper control of their vehicle.

Pc Allison said: "It will also be an offence to use mobile phone services such as sending or receiving text messages, faxes or using the internet.

"And it applies to people supervising learner drivers because if they are using their mobile phone their attention is diverted."

Motorway signs, including those on the M1 and M62, will be used to remind motorists of the new regulation.


* Hand-held use of a mobile phone while driving is banned - this includes making or receiving a call or accessing data services or texts.

* There is a £30 fixed penalty, rising to £1,000 on conviction.

* Hands-free equipment is allowed if it enables a phone to be operated without holding it.

* Using a phone in a cradle or on the steering wheel - or the handlebars of a motorbike - is not prohibited by the legislation, provided the phone isn't held in the driver's hand.

* In an incident where the driver was using a hands-free mobile, they could still be prosecuted under general driving legislation if it distracted them.

* A driver's employer could be liable if they expect employees to use hand-held phones while driving.