Drivers And Mobile Phones


Sir, - Mr Adrian Daly, chief executive of the Hibernian insurance group, is reported in your issue of February 23rd and was also interviewed on radio. Mr Daly gave some of the factors taken into consideration when motor insurance premiums are assessed. To weed out the unprofitable business is understandable, but one high-risk factor appears to be ignored.

Regarding phone conversations by the driver while actually driving, Dr Declan Bedford of the I.O.M. public health committee is quoted as follows: "the possibility of an accident is quadrupled if a driver is making or receiving a phone call, regardless of whether it is a hands-free, or a hand-held call." (The Irish Times, April 18th, 1997). The New England Journal of Medicine supports this view and says that the reason is because of the driver's limitations "with regard to attention rather than dexterity".

Insurance companies ask questions about whether or not a car is garaged at night, or if it has an alarm system on it, and that is understandable; but they never ask if the driver makes or receives phone calls while driving. The advice is, of course, to pull in to have a phone conversation, but few do. Those of us who play it safe are put in the same category as those who don't.

It appears to me that in the mad rush for "progress", human life is being sacrificed on the altar of technology. - Yours, etc. Douglas McCowen,

Templeville Road, Dublin 6W.