Mobile phones provide help in an emergency and security BUT:
You can not help being distracted by a phone call or text message.
Research shows that using a mobile phone while driving means you are four times more likely to crash. (DFT web site October 2010)
Research demonstrates that reaction times for drivers using a handheld phone are 30 per cent worse than for driving under the influence of alcohol at the legal limit. (DFT web site October 2010)
Using a hands-free phone while driving does not significantly reduce the risks because the problems are caused mainly by the mental distraction and divided attention of taking part in a phone conversation at the same time as driving. (Lamble et al, “Cognitive load and detection thresholds in car following situations: safety implications for using mobile (cellular) telephones while driving”, Accident Analysis & Prevention 31, 1999)
Despite this people still use their mobile phones whilst driving BUT:
It is illegal to use a hand-held mobile phone or similar device while driving. The penalty is £60 and 3 penalty points. If the case goes to court, it's a maximum fine of £1,000 (£2,500 if driving a bus, coach or heavy goods vehicle), discretionary disqualification and 3 points. (DFT web site October 2010)
It is illegal to use a hand-held mobile phone to access any data, including from the internet.
Your insurance costs could also go up. (DFT web site October 2010)
You can also be prosecuted for using a hands free mobile phone if you are not in proper control of your vehicle. The penalties are the same as for using a hand held phone. (DFT web site October 2010)
The penalties for driving carelessly or dangerously when using a phone can include disqualification, a large fine and up to two years imprisonment.
If you are an employer you can be prosecuted if you require employees to make or receive calls when driving. (DFT web site October 2010)
What you can do:
Switch off your phone before driving to activate voice mail.
If you ring someone on their mobile phone who turns out to be driving when they answer, say you'll call them later and hang up.
Don’t use the phone while driving – even if you are stopped at traffic lights or in a queue of traffic.
Do stop in a safe place to use your phone (not on motorway hard shoulders).
Do take regular breaks on long journeys and if necessary use the phone during the break.