Posted on: | Dorset Police
Dorset Police has taken part in a week-long crackdown against people using their mobile phones while driving, with 91 fixed penalty notices being issued.
The campaign ran from Monday 23 January to Sunday 29 January 2017 with offenders being reminded of the dangers of being distracted at the wheel and the upcoming legislative changes to mobile phone offences.
Motorists caught using a mobile phone at the wheel are currently given three penalty points and a fine of £100. This is set to double under the new rules which are anticipated to come into effect on 1 March 2017.
The changes will 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 representing an 81 per cent increase during the campaign.
Sergeant Joe Pardey, of the traffic unit, said: “This significant increase represents the scale of this issue. We are urging drivers to take responsibility for their actions and leave their phone alone while driving.
“With constant advances in technology, we are now seeing people not only using their mobile to call but also to text, check social media or stream music while behind the wheel.
“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.”
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: “While enforcement takes place all year round, recent findings underline the importance of campaigns that aim to make using a mobile phone when driving as socially unacceptable as drink or drug driving.
“It is plausible that the percentage of motorists who use their mobile phone at the wheel is even higher than the research suggests, which is why enforcement efforts must be supported by changes in drivers’ attitudes if we are to succeed in keeping our roads safe.”
Dorset Police and Crime Commissioner, Martyn Underhill, said: “A licence to drive can be lethal in the wrong hands. Police officers cannot be everywhere and the responsibility to drive safely should not be dependent on the risk of being caught.
“All motorists have a fundamental responsibility to act with due care and attention, drive safely and ensure they do not put themselves or others in danger.”