Dying to use your phone at the wheel?
Warwickshire Police and West Mercia Police are urging motorists to avoid deadly distractions at the wheel, through a national targeted mobile phone enforcement and education campaign which is running this week (10th – 16th July) to crack down on people who continue to flout the law. The campaign is taking place across the UK and serves to remind motorists that the penalties increased earlier this year for those caught using a hand-held mobile phone while driving. Both the fine and penalty doubled; from £100 to £200 and from 3 to 6 points.
Using a mobile phone while driving is a potentially fatal distraction and has been an illegal offence since December 2003. However, there are still motorists out there who believe it is acceptable to continue to use a phone behind the wheel. Studies show that drivers using a mobile are slower at recognising and reacting to hazards. Even careful drivers can be distracted by a call or a text – and a split-second lapse in concentration could result in a collision.
The increase in the fine and penalty could mean that a newly qualified driver could lose their licence if caught using a hand held mobile phone within two years of passing their test.
A recent 2016 annual report on motoring, by the RAC, suggests the number of motorists who illegally use mobile phones while at the wheel is rising. 1,714 motorists were surveyed and 31% of motorists said they used a handheld phone behind the wheel compared with 8% in 2014. The number of drivers who said they had sent a message or posted on social media rose from 7% to 19%, while 14% said they had taken a photograph or video while driving.
Chief Superintendent Stephen Cullen for Warwickshire Police and West Mercia Police said:
"Improving the safety of our roads is a year-round commitment for our officers. Although mobile phone enforcement is already part of our daily operational activity, we will be stepping up our efforts over this week to crack down on motorists who are blatantly ignoring both the law and the dangers involved in order to raise awareness of the change in legislation".
"Many motorists are already aware that using a mobile phone while driving is illegal. This includes using your phone to follow a map, read a text or check social media, and applies even if you're stopped at traffic lights or queuing in traffic. With smartphones becoming more and more embedded into our daily routines, we are all aware of how useful they can be. However, it is unacceptable to allow yourself to be distracted by them while driving, and officers will ensure any motorists doing so face the penalties involved."
"We are urging people to think about the consequences of their actions and ask themselves how they would feel if they caused a collision and injured, or killed, somebody else simply for the sake of making a call, reading a text message or checking social media."