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Driving Safety

Volume 447: debated on Thursday 22 June 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what steps he is taking to inform motorists in Northern Ireland of the dangers of driving while using a mobile phone. (78878)

Prior to the introduction of the offence of using a hand held mobile phone while driving, the Department of the Environment (DOE) and the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) raised awareness through press releases and media interviews. A reminder exercise was carried out one year after its introduction.

The DOE produced a radio advertisement, ‘Grave Mistake’, which airs regularly and a leaflet providing advice on appropriate use and penalties for misuse of mobile phones. The DOE and PSNI include information on the use of mobile phones on their websites. Electronic message systems on motorways in Northern Ireland carry road safety messages including “Kill the call before it kills you” at intervals throughout the year.

Rule 127 in the Highway Code for Northern Ireland advises drivers never to use a hand held mobile phone when driving. A draft revised Highway Code, which will shortly go out for consultation, will reinforce the legal requirement on drivers.

New primary road traffic legislation, on which the DOE has consulted, will be introduced late 2006/early 2007 and will include penalty points and greater fines for using a hand held mobile phone while driving. The DOE will consider the most appropriate way of raising awareness in advance of the proposed changes.