The week long campaign is being launched by the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) today (Monday 14 November) and is designed to draw drivers’ attention to not only the risks posed by being distracted by mobile phones while in control of a vehicle, but the serious penalties which they will face if they are caught.
Research by the RAC suggests the number of motorists who illegally use mobile phones while at the wheel is rising. They surveyed 1,714 motorists and 31% of them said they used a handheld phone behind the wheel compared with 8% in 2014. The number of drivers who said they 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.
Driving ability is clearly impaired by using a mobile phone and studies have found that talking on a hand-held mobile phone can impair driving more than driving above the drink drive limit. Department for Transport figures show that a driver impaired or distracted by their phone was a contributory factor in 492 accidents in Britain in 2014, including 21 that were fatal and 84 classed as serious.
EMOpSS provides roads policing and collision investigation to the communities of Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Northamptonshire and Nottinghamshire. It also provides armed policing response, firearms training and specialist search skills and dog support.
Last month EMOpSS launched a hard hitting video showing the horrific consequences of driving on a mobile phone under the banner #itcanwait;
Chief Inspector Mark Garthwaite is the lead for roads policing within EMOpSS said; “Officers across the four forces of the East Midlands Operational Support Service are supporting the NPCC campaign because all too often they deal with the awful consequences of using a mobile phone while driving.
“This week officers will be carrying out enforcement action during a number of ‘Fatal Four’ clinics across the region to educate motorists about the dangers of using a mobile phone while driving. Just recently we launched a campaign called ‘it can wait’ which tells the powerful story of a woman left with permanent disabilities after being caught up in an accident caused by someone on her phone. As she says, nothing is so urgent that you have to do it while driving. Please don’t.”
Jonathan Clarkson, spokesperson for the Leicester, Leicestershire & Rutland Road Safety Partnership, said, “Last year we saw a rise in the number of deaths or serious injuries on our roads and we are very aware of the devastating impact these accidents can have on families. Using a mobile phone behind the wheel all too often contributes to these tragic accidents and we fully support the NPCC week of action.”
Under new rules expected to come in next year, drivers will get six points on their licence and face a £200 fine. There are also plans to ensure that all motorists caught using their mobile phone for the first time will automatically receive penalty points rather than being offered a driving course. These new rules aim to reduce the number of deaths and injured on the roads.