Officers from the Hampshire and Thames Valley Joint Operation Unit are undertaking a week long operation across the two Force areas targeting people who use their mobile phones while driving.
This will take place between 6am on Sunday 25th January to just before midnight on the evening of Saturday 31st January.
As well as imposing penalties on drivers who are caught, dedicated officers will also use the campaign as an opportunity to educate motorists to the dangers of distraction driving.
During previous operations some of the excuses that drivers who were caught tried to use included: “I wasn’t talking“, “I didn’t realise I was using it“, and “I was looking at the time“.
Hampshire Constabulary Road Safety Sergeant Rob Heard, said: “Using a mobile phone whilst driving is extremely dangerous. You are four times more likely to have an accident if you use a mobile behind the wheel as reaction times for drivers are around 50% slower than normal when using a phone. You may think you can just look down quickly at your phone and still drive safely, but you can’t.”
“We regularly catch drivers who are distracted, we see them wandering in their lane, they start to drive more slowly, making it obvious that the driver is not concentrating on the road and potential hazards.”
“My advice is to turn off your phone or put it on silent. Keep your phone out of reach when driving to avoid the temptation to look at texts or make a call; it’s not worth the risk!”
On Friday, October 11, 2013 at around 9.30pm a fatal collision was reported on the A3054 at Bouldnor on the Isle of Wight which resulted in the tragic and untimely death of 28 year-old Rachel Titley. The other driver was also seriously injured.
At the time of the accident Rachel was driving home in her Daihatsu Cuore after seeing friends. She was presented with an oncoming Citroen Xsara Picasso driven by 26 year-old Craig Eccleston-Todd, which had crossed onto her side of the road. The vehicles subsequently collided head on.
Examination of Mr Eccleston-Todd’s mobile phone showed that at the time of the collision or just beforehand he had been texting. He was also found to be over the drink drive limit. Mr Eccleston-Todd took the decision to pick up his mobile phone whilst driving and either was reading or replying to a text message. This caused him to be so distracted that he failed to negotiate a left hand bend and crossed the central white lines into the path of Rachel’s vehicle.
Evidence showed that Rachel could have done nothing to avoid the collision and was an innocent party in this collision. Tragically she lost her life due to the actions of the other driver.
Mr Eccleston-Todd was prosecuted for causing death by dangerous driving and after a 6 day trial concluding on December 3, 2014, he was found guilty of the offence. He was subsequently sentenced to 6 years imprisonment and 8 years disqualification from driving, with extended retest.
- You’re four times more likely to crash if you use a mobile phone while driving
- Reaction times for drivers using a phone are around 50 per cent slower than normal driving
- Even careful drivers can be distracted by a call or text – and a split-second lapse in concentration could result in a crash
- It’s illegal to ride a motorcycle or drive using hand-held phones or similar devices.
- The rules are the same if you’re stopped at traffic lights or queuing in traffic.
- It’s also illegal to use a hand-held phone or similar device when supervising a learner driver or rider.
You can use hands-free phones, sat navs and 2-way radios when you’re driving or riding. But if the police think you’re distracted and not in control of your vehicle you could still get stopped and penalised.
You can use a phone in your vehicle only if you need to call 999 in an emergency and its unsafe or impractical to stop; or if you are safely parked.
If caught using your phone while driving, you can expect an automatic fixed penalty notice of three points on your licence and a fine of £100. The case could also go to court and you could be disqualified from driving or riding and get a maximum fine of £1,000. Drivers of buses or goods vehicles could get a maximum fine of £2,500.
As an alternative, those caught may be offered a Driver Diversion Course as an alternative to prosecution. The cost of the course is £85 and run by Driver Awareness Training.