UK Slaps Chatty Drivers With Jail

Texting, tinkering with gadgets could net 2 years in the pokey
By Jim O'Neill,  Newser User
Posted Dec 20, 2007 12:06 PM CST
A road safety sign on the approach to Stafford town center reminds drivers of the new law on using mobile phones whilst driving, on February 27, 2007 in Stafford, England. With effect from today motorists...   (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
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(Newser) – Yakking on the phone while behind the wheel could fetch you a little quality time behind bars in the UK, reports the Daily Telegraph. A new law rewards chatty driving—or texting, or tinkering with a GPS unit or MP3 player— with jail terms of up to two years. The government banned cell phones in 2003, but estimates 500,000 motorists ignore the ban daily.

Officials compare the new law to a campaign against driving and drinking, but critics say it's too extreme. “This does seem a bit over the top,” said a driving association spokesman. The new law also allows for up to 14 years in jail if a motorist causes a deadly crash while on the phone.