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Police continue crackdown on drivers using mobile phone

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Safer road partnership

West Mercia Police, the Safer Roads Partnership and National Fire Chiefs Council are supporting the National Police Chiefs' Council (NPCC) mobile phone week of action next week 22nd – 28th January, by targeting motorists who continue to use their handheld mobile phone at the wheel.

It's nearly a year (March 2017) since new legislation was introduced, increasing both the fine and licence points if caught using a mobile phone whilst behind the wheel. Motorists caught using a handheld mobile phone while driving face a £200 fine and six points on their licence. Drivers caught twice face a lengthy ban – which could also then lead to a £1,000 fine. While new drivers - those who have passed within the last two years - face having their licence revoked if caught just once. Since March 2017 1268 drivers in West Mercia have been caught using their mobile phone whilst at the wheel.

Since 2015 to 2017 we have experienced a number of collisions where use of a mobile phone was a causation factor and any number of persons could have been killed or seriously injured.

Towards the end of last year the Department for Transport launched a new national campaign under the THINK! Banner asking drivers to put their phone away by highlighting just what you miss when you glance at your phone http://think.direct.gov.uk/mobile-phones.html The campaign highlights that it only takes a few seconds of distraction to change lives forever. The campaign is urging Android smartphone users to download the Car Mode app or if using an iPhone, it's drive safe mode, which automatically detects when you're driving, and silences incoming calls and messages.

West Mercia Police Chief Constable Anthony Bangham, National Police Chiefs' Council Lead for Roads Policing, said: "Driving while distracted by a mobile phone is completely unacceptable and puts everyone on the roads at risk of serious harm. We are making use of the tougher penalties to clamp down on this dangerous behaviour – but we have to be clear that when you get behind the wheel it is your responsibility to stay focused and alert. It's concerning that we still have drivers out there who are willing to risk driving whilst distracted and it is a year round commitment for us to challenge this behaviour across West Mercia."

Group Commander Mick Cadman, overseeing Community Risk said: "Smartphones are embedded into most people's daily routines, but we are urging people to keep phone usage to when they are outside of a vehicle.

"We want 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."

Station Manager James Bainbridge from Shropshire Fire and Rescue said: "In Shropshire, Fire Crews are often called to attend road traffic collisions where the use of a mobile phone whilst driving has been a contributory factor. It takes no more than a moment of distraction for an accident to occur that is capable of causing serious life changing injuries and death - not only to the driver/phone user, but also to their passengers and other innocent road users.

We believe that by making mobile phone use at the wheel as socially unacceptable as drink driving, and through legislation & enforcement, road safety risks will be significantly reduced. In supporting the NPCC's mobile phone week of action, our message is to 'turn off before you set off', removing mobile phone distraction in full."