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

Star Courier (Surrey & Hants) - - NEWS - By Fer­gus McEwan

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.

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