Ever tempted to use your phone while driving? You’re no better than a drink-driver – that’s the message being pushed today by the National Police Chiefs’ Council.
The police organisation is launching a week-long crackdown on mobile phone use at the wheel, ahead of heavier penalties being introduced in March.
It comes after more than 10,000 vehicles were stopped as part of a similar campaign in November, which saw 7,800 fixed penalties handed out at the roadside.
Targeted patrols in unmarked vans, high vantage points at the side of roads and even helmet cams are being used to catch distracted motorists.
“This week forces will be working to make driving distracted as socially unacceptable as drink driving through enforcing strong deterrents and powerful messages to make people think twice about their driving habits,” said the council’s lead for roads policing, chief constable Suzette Davenport.
“Encouraging results from last year’s campaign against mobile phone use show how effective new tactics and innovative approaches can be. Officers will continue to use intelligence-led tactics to target police activity and resources and catch repeat offenders.”
Drivers caught using their phone while driving could be hit with an on-the-spot fine of £100 and three penalty points. This is set to double in March.
Road safety charity Brake has welcomed the campaign, adding that more than half of 25-34-year-old drivers admit to reading or sending a text message from behind the wheel within the last year.
The organisation says the reaction times of texting drivers are 35% slower than those paying attention – while they’re also 23 times more likely to crash.
“The law needs to be much tougher with this type of offence, which appears to be growing in numbers,” said Brake’s campaigns director, Gary Rae.
“Younger drivers, especially those aged between 25 and 34, simply aren’t getting the message about the dangers of using a mobile phone while driving. Doing any other complex task while driving hugely increases your chance of crashing. These drivers are putting their own and other people’s lives in grave danger by taking this risk.”