Last month, Muhammed Basit was fined
£180 by Nottingham Magistrates' Court for using a mobile phone while driving. He was further ordered to pay a victim surcharge of £15 and costs of £35, and to have three points added to his licence.
As he didn't hit anyone, who you might ask was the victim? The victim is you, or even your child. The practice of using a mobile phone while driving can be extremely dangerous, and there is substantial evidence from a number of studies
to back this up. Common sense alone dictates this should be the case. Nowadays, most of us can multitask, the big difference is that if I am watching a YouTube video as I write this article, and make a spelling mistake, no harm is done. The error will be picked up at the proof reading stage, and even if it isn't, the worst that will happen is that I will make a fool of myself. If you are driving and dial a wrong number, again no harm is done, but if you dial the right number at the cost of failing to brake when you should, the price could be very high, probably for some unfortunate pedestrian, or even for you.
All the same, some people are simply ineducable on this subject. What should you do if you see someone using a mobile phone while driving? Technically you should report this to the police. I have done so on one occasion. On my way to the British Library
, a woman driving one of those big 4 wheel drives jumped a light and nearly ran me down. She was clearly using a phone, so I wrote down her number and e-mailed plod. I was told I should go to my local police station and file a report, which I did. Months later I received a letter to the effect that no action would be taken. Joke.
Some time after that, a guy in a van tore round a corner in Sydenham as I was about to cross the road. Again, he was clearly using a mobile, so again I took down the number and this time phoned the non-emergency number. Again I was told I would have to attend the local copshop and file a report in person. Double joke, so I didn't bother. Now, an enterprising schoolkid has come up with a brilliant solution.
Dylan Ewers was unhappy being driven to school by bus drivers who it seems had a habit of using a mobile phone while driving
, but what would the drivers have said if he had objected? So, in these days of total surveillance, Dylan filmed the culprits covertly. Both of them! This resulted in the drivers each receiving a £500 fine.
So the solution to people driving while on the phone is simple: recruit unemployed people, better still, people who are otherwise unemployable
, give them a phone and a travel pass each, and let them wander around our cities, towns and villages filming drivers using the phone. All they need is a clear shot of the offender and his licence plate. His? Most crime is committed by men, but here women seem to be as bad as men, with younger people perhaps being slightly more prone to it than elder drivers.
Furthermore, these recruits could be paid by results, perhaps on short term contracts of three months. If a driver is fined £500, the person who caught him could be paid a 50% bounty, that way the programme would be entirely self-financing. How effective would this be? Well, I live in Sydenham, which is basically a high street and not much else. If I loiter for ten or fifteen minutes with my eyes peeled I can usually spot three or four offenders. Many's the time I've literally walked fifty yards down Sydenham Road and I've seen two or three drivers doing what they didn't ought.