Drivers caught using phones at the wheel in police crackdown

5th February 2018

Drivers caught using phones at the wheel in police crackdown

More than 120 drivers were caught using their phones behind the wheel during a week-long crackdown in Suffolk.

Police say many of those stopped by officers were unaware of the tougher penalties for breaking the law. In March, the Government doubled the penalty from three points to six and increased the fine to £200.

Suffolk Police’s Operation Ringtone resulted in 122 motorists being caught, twice the number caught during a seven-day enforcement campaign last summer.

Chief Inspector Kris Barnard said: “This is a staggering number of people caught breaking the law – an average of 17 a day – and I am deeply concerned that such a high number of people are willing to risk other people’s lives by using their phone while driving.

Operation Ringtone ran between January 22 and 28, coinciding with a nationwide campaign led by the National Police Chiefs’ Council.

Licences will be cancelled if drivers incur six or more points within two years of passing their driving test. It is also an offence to use a phone while a vehicle is stationary with the engine running.

Ch Insp Barnard said: “Many of the drivers stated they were not aware the penalties for the offence increased last year.

“Far too many people are oblivious to just how dangerous using your phone while driving is, and the devastating consequences it can have if it causes you to be involved in a serious or fatal collision.

“Our message is simple – don’t put lives in danger, and leave your phone alone while behind the wheel.”

Last month, police admitted that the number of drivers caught using their mobile phones was a “drop in the ocean” compared to the likely thousands of incidents that go unseen by officers.

Statistics prove that drivers are four times more likely to be involved in a crash while using their phone. Police say using a mobile behind the wheel is one of the ‘fatal four’ traffic offences, along with drink/drug-driving, driving too fast, and failing to wear a seatbelt.

The law states that drivers can only use a hand-held device behind the wheel if you are safely parked with the engine off – this does not include waiting in traffic or at the traffic lights.

Motorists can use a phone if it is entirely hands-free – however, devices should be set up before setting off. The police can still prosecute if you are distracted by using a mobile phone while driving, even if it is fully hands-free.

Drivers can also face a fine of up to £1,000 and three points if they fail to have proper control of the vehicle or full view of the road ahead. This is the same law that might bring a driver before the courts for eating a sandwich at the wheel and might cover, for instance, holding a mobile telephone in a way which interfered with the control of the vehicle, whilst not actually using it.

Remember, twelve current points will normally mean a six-month ban, at least. Six points for a new driver means you have to start the driving test process all over again.

Make the glove compartment the phone compartment!

How can Gotelee’s criminal law lawyers help you?

If you are under investigation or have been charged with an offence, we can assess your situation and advise you on the best way forward.

Our lawyers, based in Ipswich, Hadleigh, Felixstowe, Woodbridge and Melton, will explain the options open to you in a clear and understandable way.

To find out more, contact Hugh Rowland on 01473 298140 or at hugh.rowland@gotelee.co.uk, or Howard Catherall on 01473 298167 or at howard.catherall@gotelee.co.uk.

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