Officers from the Hampshire and Thames Valley Joint Operation Unit stopped 285 drivers in the last week for using a mobile phone behind the wheel in Hampshire and on the Isle of Wight.
Between 6am on Sunday, January 25, to just before midnight on the evening of Saturday, January 31, specific patrols to identify distraction drivers were undertaken across the two force areas.
As well as imposing penalties on drivers who were caught, dedicated officers used the campaign as an opportunity to educate motorists to the dangers of distraction driving.
During the last week some of the excuses that drivers who were caught tried to use included:
- “I wasn’t using the phone, I was videoing a car that cut me up“
- “This is hypocritical, but I hate people using their phones while driving!”
- “I was on my phone talking to my mate about American football as its a boring drive“
- a driver playing games on their phone in a traffic queue said “I was bored“
Hampshire Constabulary Road Safety Sergeant Rob Heard, said: “These results are disappointing and show that many people still do not understand the dangers of using a mobile phone whilst driving.
“The majority of people know they should not be using their phone whilst driving, but don’t seem to understand what a huge distraction it is.”
“This just re-enforces why we need to run campaigns like this to remind people of the dangers, and prosecute those who feel it is still acceptable to take that risk.”
“Distraction can be a major contribution in road accidents. By using your phone you are four times more likely to be involved in a collision and your reaction times can be around 50% slower.”
“My advice is to turn your phone off whilst driving, put it out of reach, and out of view. This way you won’t be tempted to look at it and become distracted. It’s not worth the risk.”
In the last week 285 drivers were stopped for using a mobile phone behind the wheel. They will all face further action in relation to this distraction driving offence. The below table shows which roads policing unit these drivers were stopped by:
|Roads Policing Officers Area||Number|
|Havant based officers||88|
|Whitchurch based officers||51|
|Totton based officers||82|
|IOW based officers||29|
The figure for the 2015 campaign is higher than the result for the same campaign in 2014 where 178 drivers faced further action for using a mobile phone. This increase can be attributed in part to additional resources and officers being used to enforce the campaign this year. In the Thames Valley officers recorded 422 offences in the last week.
- 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 it is run by Driver Awareness Training.