This page has been archived and is no longer updated. Find out more about page archiving.
Skip to main contentAccess keys helpA-Z index

You are in: Home > General & Business English
News about Britain
Me and my mobile
Police in Britain have been cracking down on drivers who use mobile phones. But while talking and driving is not allowed, it seems you can talk while doing anything else, anywhere, any time.

Now tell us what you think. Are there occasions when you would NOT use your phone? Have you had any amusing experiences when phoning?
blue arrow Send in your comments
It often seems that everyone in Britain has a mobile phone. We use them as alarm clocks, calculators, to help with exam revision, to pay city congestion charges, to send photos of ourselves on holiday with our new 3G phone - and even to talk with other people. And that's where the problems can start.

Firstly when do you use them? The etiquette of using mobiles is changing. Originally people turned away when speaking with someone. Now they'll just talk about anything from work to romance to when they'll be home -at the top of their voices - without anyone minding. Or not minding much. Or - OK - being too polite to say they can't stand the fact that person sitting next to them on the train is talking about last night's party while they're trying to read the paper.

Secondly, when do you not use them? In Britain, the answer to that is simple. You don't use a mobile phone - except with a fixed hands free set - while you're driving. A new law came into force at the end of 2003. Anyone caught using a hand-held mobile while driving risks a fixed penalty of £30 or a fine of up to £1,000 if convicted plus three points on their licence.

However, not everyone takes note of the law and the police have been prosecuting drivers for breaking it. The worst offenders are people living in South West Scotland. BBC transport correspondent Tom Symonds says that over 800 have been caught in Strathclyde compared to just 17 in Suffolk. (It's not clear whether that means that Scots have more friends or are just worse drivers!)

Finally, do try not to lose your mobile. It's not the phone itself which matters - it's easy enough to replace a handset. But your SIM card is another matter. It has all your contacts stored on it. And without your contacts list - well, who could you phone?
mobile phone
known in America as a cellphone, and in Germany as a Handy
congestion charges
money to allow you to drive in the centre of London
third generation phones which have internet access and can take send photos
rules for behaving politely
being annoyed or bothered
they can't stand
it irritates them so much they can't tolerate
fixed hands free set
a holder, microphone and speaker that you connect your phone to so you can use it while driving
came into force
started being applied
caught using
seen by the Police actually using
hand-held mobile
a mobile phone you hold in your hand
a fixed penalty
the punishment for doing something wrong: here, if you pay of £30 at once that's the end of it
here, if you don't pay of £30, you will go to court and if the court finds you guilty you will have to pay a large fine
three points on their licence
each traffic offence (speeding, not stopping at a red light) means you lose some points from your driving licence. You can't lose too many or you will be banned from driving
prosecuting drivers
bringing criminal charges against drivers
not obeying
worst offenders
drivers guilty of the most serious offences
the part of the phone set you hold in your hand. The set includes the charger
SIM card
Subscriber Identification Module
contacts list
people whose phone numbers you have stored on your SIM card
Is it OK to drive and use a mobile phone?


Results so far:

1: Yes
2: No
Total votes so far: 5454
blue arrow
BBC Mobiles Glossary
blue arrow
Scotland: Scotblog on drive law
blue arrow
Wales: Mobile powers seal webcam
blue arrow
Wales: News to your mobile
blue arrow
Northern Ireland: school test questions
blue arrow
Derby police target football supporters
blue arrow