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Number of Police Penalties Double for Using Mobile Phones While Driving

Published on: 26 Mar, 2017
Updated on: 27 Mar, 2017

The average weekly number of penalties issued during Surrey Police’s latest crackdown on the use of mobile phones behind the wheel has doubled.

For an average week during 2015/2016, 28 drivers were issued with a Traffic Offence Report for using a phone while driving but during the latest #ItCanWait enforcement week 63 motorists were issued with tougher fixed penalty notices resulting in a £200 fine and six penalty points on their licence after being stopped for the offence.

The new increased penalties which saw fines and the number of points double were introduced at the start of March to reflect the seriousness of the offence and its impact on collisions. In support of a national week of enforcement (March 1-7) Surrey and Sussex Police intensified activity to target motorists who continued to ignore the law and picked up their mobiles.

Officers from Operations Command, supported by special constables, casualty reduction and area patrol teams deployed staff to carry out high visibility and covert operations throughout the week. The majority of drivers stopped were men over the age of 25-years-old who were driving a car on an urban road.

One young woman driver, with less than two years experience, caught while driving on the M25, said she was calling her mum. She now faces having to pay for a new provisional licence and pass both the theory and practical tests again.

Another person stopped on the same day said it was a work phone he had been using and he was, “only looking at the screen”. A further reason was provided by a man who said he was using his phone to call work to explain he was running late.

Superintendent Chris Moon Head of Surrey and Sussex Roads Policing Unit (RPU) said: “It is disappointing to learn that in spite of all the publicity nationally and locally to explain the tougher new penalties and seriousness of the offence there are still a number of motorists who flout the law across Surrey.

“The reasons given by some are frankly just irresponsible and put drivers, passengers and those around them in danger. Those people who remain addicted to their phones need to realise that we will continue to target them as they do not see the risks of what they are doing and continue to put other road users at risk”

Last year Surrey Police sent out 1,502 Traffic Offence Reports for mobile phone offences.

The law states that the only time a driver can use a hand-held mobile phone whilst driving is when calling 999 in an emergency. Hands-free kits are allowed by law but they can still be an in car distraction. If a police officer thinks you are not in proper control of a vehicle this can also be an offence.

Supt Moon continued: “The option for people to attend an educational course instead of being prosecuted has been removed so people caught will get at least six points on their licence and a £200 fine and new drivers may lose their licence altogether.

“There is no quick fix to change attitudes and behaviours on our roads and as other motoring campaigns show it can take years to encourage drivers to adapt to new laws and environments.

“We will continue to work to make using a mobile while driving socially unacceptable through a mixture of education, information and enforcement until we get the point where the #ItCanWait campaign urging drivers to resist the temptation to answer or use a mobile phone behind the wheel is something that motorists automatically do.

“After all no-one takes their driving test and expects to use their phone or have it to hand during the test so why should they at any other time on the road?”

A police spokesperson added: “We are calling on members of the public to back this campaign and help change behaviour to make the illegal use of mobile phones socially unacceptable by the majority.

“Everyone can get involved by sharing social media posts, encouraging family and friends to put their phones down, turn your own off or onto silent when driving and report other drivers using their mobiles to Surrey Police.

“Nothing is so important that it can’t wait until you reach your destination.”

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Responses to Number of Police Penalties Double for Using Mobile Phones While Driving

  1. John Lomas Reply

    March 26, 2017 at 6:47 pm

    I know many of these cases will have been using the phone while the vehicle is actually moving, but has it been pointed out to people that stopping and then not switching off their engine still constitutes being in charge of the vehicle, stop start technology which stops the engine when the handbrake is on and the gear in neutral, does not comply with the mobile communications device laws.

  2. Martin Elliott Reply

    March 26, 2017 at 10:20 pm

    Reading between the lines, the police are confirming that it takes resources and publicised prosecutions to change attitudes to this social menace. Just raising the penalties does little.

    It’s not just mobile phones, there is meant to be emphasis on lane hogging, tailgating, etc, but that’s gone ominously quiet.

    How long is the resource allocated for the current mobile phone campaign? One month, maybe two?

    By itself we are told the Road Police Units (RPUs) in Surrey can cope, despite the massive cuts in manpower and resources over the years. If roads are running fine in good weather, probably right, but what if there’s a breakdown on the A3 Guildford bypass, with two RPU vehicles attending?

  3. Dennis Harvey-Hepherd Reply

    March 27, 2017 at 11:07 pm

    I would just like to point out that these are not police penalties any more than they are court or DVLA penalties. They are passed by Parliament into the law of the land.

    Unfortunately the offenders just see the police and blame them for getting the points.

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