Austrian city cracks down on mobiles

Austria's second largest city has ordered public transport passengers to keep their phones on silent mode from this week, taking a cue from France's national railway, which offers phone-free zones on fast trains.

'I know I insulted the mobile phone goddess a little,' Graz's Mayor Siegfried Nagl, said on Austrian TV, 'But people need to know they don't have the right to be on the telephone permanently and constantly. It's just not healthy never be able to have any peace and quiet.'

Graz's response to the proliferation of mobile phones reflects a growing backlash against their abuse around the world, where mobiles and other portable communication devices outnumber people by a margin of 2:1 in many countries.

This week, US Republican Peter DeFazio filed pre-emptive legislation aimed at ensuring Americans won't be subjected to mobile phone chitchat on airlines. DeFazio introduced his bill after the European Union lifted the ban on using of mobile phones on flights. Air France-KLM has also launched a trial airbourne service.

Last month, police in New Jersey started fining drivers €63 (US$100) for talking on a handheld device or sending a text message. Across the US this year, at least 21 state legislatures are considering some kind of ban on texting while driving, the report said.