Posted on: | Dorset Police
Following an increase in the penalties for using a mobile phone at the wheel, Dorset Police has taken part in a week-long crackdown against people using their mobile phones while driving, with 92 fixed penalty notices being issued.
The campaign ran from Wednesday 1 March to Tuesday 7 March with offenders being handed six penalty points and a £200 fine. This has doubled under new rules introduced by Government on 1 March 2017 from three penalty points and a fine of £100. Drivers will also no longer be eligible for a driver awareness course and have to either accept the penalty or take their case to court.
The changes have a significant impact on new motorists who will have to retake their test if caught within two years of obtaining their licence. More experienced drivers also risk going to court if caught twice, with a possible fine of up to £1,000 and at least a six-month driving ban.
During an average week in Dorset, 17 tickets are issued to motorists for using a mobile phone at the wheel and with 92 being issued during the campaign, this represents a 441 per cent increase.
Sergeant Joe Pardey, of the traffic unit, said: “We began the campaign week with a targeted operation involving a team of 12 traffic officers who caught 42 drivers in just six hours. This enforcement involved the use of both marked and unmarked vehicles, and spotters in plain clothes a distance away from our check point.
“As a result of using their phone at the wheel, several drivers will now be losing their licence and a few people will even lose their jobs.
“It is clear that we have seen a decline in the number of offences detected throughout the campaign week and this is likely, in part, due to drivers becoming increasingly aware of their actions which can have a significant impact on both drivers themselves and other road users.”
During 2015 mobile phone use was a direct contributory factor in the death or serious injury of 97 people on our roads across the country.
It has been illegal to use a hand-held phone or similar device while driving or riding a motorcycle since December 2003. However, many motorists still fail to see that it is not possible to use a phone and be in proper control of a vehicle.
A report published by the RAC in September 2016 stated that 31 per cent of drivers now admit to using a mobile phone when driving, up from eight per cent in 2014.
Sergeant Pardey continued: “As an officer who deals with the often tragic aftermath when a driver is distracted at the wheel, I would like to make a personal plea to the driving public to think about their actions. You may think liking your friends Instagram post or Snapchatting your drive home is the most important thing at the time, but your priorities can change in a second.
“Nothing is more important than your safety and the safety of other road users and, while you think you can get away with it, it is vital that drivers realise they could kill someone.
“We are urging drivers to take responsibility for their actions and leave their phone alone. This enforcement week has been very high profile, but officers enforce mobile phone rules 24/7 and drivers shouldn’t become complacent.”