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The Motoring Law of Avoidable Distraction

Sep 3, 2008
A new law in the UK which introduces prison terms for motorists who use mobile phones and other distracting actions and kill someone whilst driving will be enforced as of the 18th August.

The new sentencing rules will replace the old system which operated in law under the "careless driving" charge.The maximum sentence for causing death by careless driving under the old rules was a 5000 pound sterling fine with penalty points added to your license.

A section of the new legislation will cover persons who were "avoidably distracted" and kill by such actions as: texting on a mobile phone, drinking or eating, applying make-up, reading a map or adjusting a sat-nav or stereo whilst driving.

There is (in my opinion) a very controversial aspect to this legislation; some of the above rules cover making adjustments to fitted systems that exist within the vehicle for which the penalties can be very severe if a fatality results. There is to be a new offence introduced which will penalize uninsured, disqualified or unlicensed drivers who kill whilst driving, but the maximum penalties for these charges will only be a 2 year sentence of imprisonment.

Now lets look at the above again, if you make an adjustment to your sat-nav or radio whilst driving and kill someone through those actions you could get the maximum 5 years imprisonment; but if you chose to deliberately ignore the fact that you have no driving licence, no insurance or are already disqualified yet get behind the wheel of a car and kill someone you will only be liable to the lesser maximum sentence of 2 years imprisonment.

Am I the only person on this planet who thinks this is wrong?

The average modern family saloon car will have many control features fitted to the steering column (some will say too many causing confusion while driving, which defeats the object of safety) and also on the steering wheel itself.

This new legislation covers adjusting a car stereo or sat-nav whose controls are not on the steering column, yes some radios can be partially controlled from the column), does it therefore mean that whilst driving you cannot for instance adjust the heating/aircon controls or the ventilation vents, open the sun roof or adjust the rear view mirror or switch on the hazard warning lights whilst driving without being "avoidably distracted" and breaking the law, or should we have to pull over to the side of the road to do so?

Be very careful, Big Brothers' cameras will be out there watching you.
About the Author
Bill is now retired but as a keen motorist has driven on most continents of the world and has a keen interest in environmental issues, these account for only a couple of his many varied interests. http://www.the-car-hub.co.uk/
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