posted 4 months ago

Drivers Still Risking Lives By Using Phone Despite New Penalties

Police crackdown catches hundreds of motorists flouting the law by using a hand-held mobile phone behind the wheel.

Driver logged into internet banking on the M5

A driving instructor, heavy goods vehicle operators, and many others have continued to risk lives by using hand-held mobiles since the penalties rose March 1st 2017, a West Midlands Police's crackdown revealed. During the crackdown – that ran March 1st to 8th 2017 – 261 drivers fell foul of the revised, far higher, penalties.

Offenders included a man that held his mobile in one hand logged onto online banking, and a statement in the other. He was travelling on the M5. Although the driving instructor was not behind the wheel, he was penalised for using a mobile rather than monitoring the pupil. 30 heavy goods vehicle drivers were punished.

Inspector Sion Hathaway, from the Central Motorway Police Group, said: "We used our unmarked police HGV cab during the operation which enabled us to look right into truckers' cabs. They’ve been reported to the Regional Traffic Commissioner who oversees regulation of the haulage trade (and could now) face a suspension."

He added: "It's disappointing that despite all the publicity around tougher new punishments – and the dangers of distracted driving – many people are still putting lives at risk by using phones at the wheel."

Penalties for using hand-held mobile while driving

Since March 1st 2017, the punishment for using a hand-held mobile has been a £200 fine and 6 penalty points. That is twice the previous punishment. Drivers can be banned if they collect 12 points in 3 years (in total). In contrast, those that qualified within the last 2 years can be banned if they receive 6 (in total).

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said: "Our message is simple and clear: do not get distracted by your mobile phone while driving. It may seem innocent, but holding and using your phone at the wheel risks serious injury and even death to yourself and other road users."

"Doubling penalties will act as a strong deterrent to motorists tempted to pick up their phone. Everyone has a part to play in encouraging their family and friends not to use their phones while driving. It is as inexcusable as drink driving", Mr Grayling added.

Crime Commissioner welcomes higher penalties

West Midlands Police & Crime Commissioner, David Jamieson, added: "These tougher penalties are welcomed by all sensible road users as driving while using a hand-held mobile phone is potentially lethal."

He continued: "This is about saving lives. Studies have found that motorists who talk on their hand-held phone while driving are 4 times more likely to crash.. Statistics also show that in just 5 years, there were more than 3,000 accidents involving a driver on the phone."