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It's good to talk, but not in the car

Phoning while on the road worse than drunk driving

The DTLR (Department for Transport, Local Government and the Regions) will tomorrow launch its advertising campaign to hammer home the dangers of driving while using a mobile phone.

Back in March, research from the Transport Laboratory revealed that levels of concentration among drivers using a mobile phone were actually lower than those of drunk drivers.

But if it is so dangerous then surely the law should have intervened as it has in the Republic of Ireland, where driving while chatting on a mobile is illegal.

"There are laws to cover this already and we want to change people's behaviour before we look at changing legislation," said Scott Marchbank, spokesman at the DTLR.

Users are currently at risk of being prosecuted for dangerous driving, under the Highway Code rule 127 which demands proper control over the vehicle must be exercised at all times, but there is no separate rule specifically related to mobile phones.

While it is common sense not to use a mobile handset while driving, too many people still choose to ignore the warnings and it seems unlikely an advertising campaign will change their minds.

"Drink driving has fallen, but it has taken extensive advertising campaigns to get the message across and turn it into an antisocial behaviour," added Marchbank. "We hope the campaign will start to raise awareness and make this behaviour unacceptable."

The £250,000 campaign, fronted by actress Lisa Faulkner, begins tomorrow and will include audio adverts, posters and a TV campaign.

The message from the DTLR is clear: turn on your voicemail and collect it when you've reached your destination.

For more info, see www.dtlr.gov.uk

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