MOBILES & MORE: D-DAY 27th FEB - Tim Ridyard

S26 Road Safety Act 2006 to be exact - which says you cannot use a hand-held mobile whilst driving and nor may you supervise someone driving whilst using a mobile. Further, you cannot cause/ permit the driving of a vehicle by someone using a telephone or similar device. The real change is that the penalty increases in that it becomes an offence with a fixed penalty of £60 and 3 penalty points will be endorsed if a fixed penalty is accepted. If a driver declines a fixed penalty and is prosecuted then, on pleading guilty/ being found guilty, 3 points may be endorsed or, worse, the court has the discretion to disqualify a driver for a period of the court's choosing. ( Max £1000 fine for £2500 or HGV/ PSV drivers).Section 26 also introduces a like offence for driving a vehicle which does not give proper control or a full view of the road and traffic ahead ( e.g. obstruction on the dashboard?), or causing or permitting driving by another person in such a position.

Tim Ridyard comments: previously a fixed penalty simply meant a £30 fixed penalty. Now it is £60. Previously points/ disqualification could only be imposed if the court looked at an incident as careless driving - otherwise it remained a non-endorseable offence. The danger of this offence is that drivers may become blase about it and yet the points will count towards any possible totting conviction which is where 12 or more penalty points are attacted within a three year offending period. Unlike the graduated points system to be introduced under the the Road Safety Act 2006, meaning that low-level speeding offences can be dealt with by 2 penalty points this offence must be marked by three penalty points.

Molly Ivins, RIP.

A tribute here for Molly Ivins.A few years ago, I was asked to write a column for Truck Magazine. The prospect scared the life out of me, and I began to take a serious look at what real journalists wrote.Molly Ivins was something that we in Europe tend not to believe exists; a liberal Texan with a serious sense of humour, and an ability to make her point whilst respecting that of those who disagreed with her. Did she write about trucks? Probably not - but what she did write about, she did so with both a passion and an accuracy. I think that's pretty cool.So, in my Dallas-Fort Worth literary garret, I'm raising a glass of Shiner Bock to the old girl. We exist in a world that - to my increasingly befuddled mind - is going mad. As such, when one of the few people who make sense of the same takes their leave, we should miss them. I'll take the liberty of quoting her, and use a comment she made at the time of the 50th anniversary of the Texas Observer.""This is where you can tell the truth without the bark on it, laugh at anyone who is ridiculous, and go after the bad guys with all the energy you have."As I said - pretty damn cool.Molly Ivins 1944 - 2007