Police war on mob drivers
>> NEWS: RURAL HART IS TARGETED Mobile phones and driving – the laws and penalties SEE PAGE 7 Surrey and Hampshire forces join nationwide crackdown as evidence grows of law being flouted
POLICE in Hampshire and Surrey have backed a national crackdown on motorists using handheld mobile phones, but what is the law now and what will the changes mean?
Here are some answers:
The Road Vehicles ( construction and use) ( amendment) ( no. 4) Regulations 2003 came into force on December 1, 2003 making it illegal to ride a motorcycle or drive using hand- held phones or similar devices.
The rules also apply if you’re stopped at traffic lights or queuing in traffic.
It is also illegal to use a hand- held phone or similar device when supervising a learner driver or rider.
You can get an automatic fixed penalty notice for using a hand- held phone while driving or riding. You’ll get three penalty points and a fine of £ 100 ( these penalties increase from next month).
If you’re the driver, you can only use your phone in a vehicle if you need to call 999 or 112 in an emergency and it’s unsafe or impractical to stop, or if you are safely parked.
You can use hands- free phones, satellite navigation systems and two- 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 penalised.
New legislation comes into force on March 1. Offenders will receive six penalty points and a £ 200 fine, with no option for a driver improvement course. A new driver could lose his or her licence. HAMPSHIRE and Surrey police forces have joined a nationwide crackdown on drivers using mobile phones behind the wheel.
The campaign, led by the National Police Chief’s Council, coincides with tougher penalties for driving offences to reduce unnecessary deaths.
Roads policing officers in both counties are carrying out dedicated operations this week to catch drivers using their phones. They will issue penalties as well as educating motorists about the dangers.
In Operation Tramline, a five- day operation in Hampshire this month, 137 motorists were caught using their phones. Hampshire’s Road Safety Sergeant, Rob Heard, said research showed distracted drivers are four times more likely to be involved in a collision and their reactions are 50% slower.
“Every day we see people deciding to take the risk of using their mobile phone while driving, whether looking at a text, making and receiving calls or even surfing the internet,” Sgt Heard said.
“Doing any of these will clearly impair and distract your ability to drive a vehicle safely. Research has shown that talking on a mobile phone can impair your ability to drive more than if you were driving while over the drinks limit.
“You are much less aware of what’s happening around you and fail to see road signs, maintain a proper lane position or a steady speed.
“A moment’s inattention can be the difference between life and death. We have seen the devastation caused by those who take the risk. Please think twice before answering a call, looking at a text or browsing your phone. Let’s have no more innocent people lose their lives. Turn your phone off while driving, or put it out of reach and out of view.”
Supt Chris Moon, head of Surrey Roads Policing Unit, said the message about not using handheld devices while driving was still not getting through, despite it being outlawed 14 years ago.
Supt Moon spoke of an ‘ alarming rise’ in drivers using mobiles. A national campaign last May recorded the highest number ever.
“This addiction to using a handheld mobile phone needs to be broken,” Supt Moon warned.
“Putting the phone on silent or out of reach when driving can put a stop to the habit. Motorists are putting themselves and those around them at huge risk.
“There needs to be a sea change in how the driving community views and accepts the illegal use of mobile phones. This behaviour needs to be seen as socially unacceptable in the same way drink- driving, drug- driving or driving without a seatbelt is viewed.”
An all too familiar sight: But police say people distracted by their phones while driving are four times more likely to have an accident and their reactions are 50% slower.