23 January 2017
8,000 Mobile Phone Drivers Caught in Police Crackdown
Almost 8,000 drivers were caught using a mobile phone behind the wheel during a week-long clamp down by police.
Hundreds of verbal warnings, 68 court summonses and 117 non-mobile phone related distraction offences were identified in the nationwide crackdown.
Taking place in November 2016 following campaigns from national newspapers shaming motorists for driving whilst using their phones, the crackdown marked a change in police strategy in handling the issue of distracted driving.
Cuts to the police force’s finances have led to a fall of almost a third of the number of traffic officers on UK roads in recent years, but now the police are running targeted operations over concentrated periods of time, with education campaigns and police officers both undercover and in marked vehicles out on the UK roads.
The NPCC lead for roads policing, Suzette Davenport, said: “This week, forces will be working to make distracted driving as socially unacceptable as drink-driving through enforcing strong deterrents and powerful messages to make people think twice about their driving habits.
“Encouraging results from last year’s campaign against mobile phone use show how effective new tactics and innovative approaches can be. Officers will continue to use intelligence-led tactics to target police activity and resources and catch repeat offenders.”
Penalties for motorists caught using a phone while driving will be doubled from March 2017.
Paul Reddy, driving offences lawyer at Slater and Gordon, said: “I expect that the change in law will have a big impact. Increasing the penalty from three to six points has a big effect in terms of the punishment because if you are caught twice you will have an automatic six month driving ban. This should act as an effective deterrent.
“There is no excuse in this day and age for using your mobile phone whilst driving. It prevents drivers from being in proper control of the vehicle yet we see it all the time as highlighted by recent newspaper campaigns.”
The UK Government is also considering increasing the sentence for drivers who cause death by careless driving.
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