Tougher penalties for using phone while driving

Issued on 1/3/17 at 7:00 a.m.

From today (Wednesday 1st March) tough new penalties for driving while using a mobile phone come into force.

Drivers will now receive six points on their driving licence and a £200 fine - double the previous penalties. These changes will have a significant impact on young drivers in particular as they risk having their driving licence revoked following a first offence. Motorists in the EMOpSS region – Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Nottinghamshire and Northamptonshire - will no longer be offered the opportunity to go on a driver awareness course.

The four police forces of the East Midlands Operational Support Service (EMOpSS) will be working with road safety partnerships, the RAC and THINK! during a week long campaign (from Wednesday 1 March to Tuesday 7 March) to increase awareness of the changes to the legislation.

Enforcement action will be taking place throughout the week across Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire, Lincolnshire and Northamptonshire with officers out on patrol in marked and unmarked cars.

In Leicestershire, Hinckley and Bosworth Community Safety Partnership are holding a ‘safer driver’ event at 2pm on Wednesday 1 March at the Hinckley Hub with local police officers and Leicestershire Fire and Rescue Service. A Fatal4 operation is also being held in Hamilton on Friday 3 March from 9am.

EMOpSS has been running a hard hitting campaign to highlight the horrific consequences of driving on a mobile phone under the banner #itcanwait. Officers have made a film with Liese Bowers-Straw from Kirkby in Ashfield who was left with serious injuries following a collision on the M1 in November 2014. The collision was caused by a driver who was using her mobile phone while driving.

Chief Inspector Mark Garthwaite is the lead for roads policing within EMOpSS, he said; “We hope that these tough new penalties will make motorists realise that driving while using their phone is as unacceptable as drink driving. What is concerning is that drivers aren’t just making phone calls, unbelievably, they are texting and using the internet as well! Far too often we see the tragic consequences of other motorists’ selfish actions which can tear families apart. Please don’t take that risk”.

Jonathan Clarkson, spokesperson for the Leicester, Leicestershire & Rutland Road Safety Partnership, said; “Between January 2014 and December 2016, Leicestershire Police recorded the following FATAL4 offences; 126,030 people were caught speeding, 2952 were not wearing a seatbelt and 2399 were using their mobile phones, in addition 2680 people were arrested for drink /drug driving.

“In the same three year period, 300 road users, aged between 16 & 24, have been killed or seriously injured across the Leicestershire Police force area, we also saw over 1890 collisions involving this age group, of which the FATAL4 offences will have been a contributory factor so it really is vital to concentrate on the road and nothing else.”

National Police Chiefs’ Council Lead for Roads Policing, Chief Constable Suzette Davenport said; “This issue has to begin with personal responsibility by drivers. We know that people are more likely to report other drivers using a phone than to view themselves as guilty of it. That has to change.

“Tougher penalties are a step in the right direction, but police forces and partners are working this week to make it socially unacceptable to use a mobile phone at the wheel. It’s about more than what you might have to pay as a penalty – you could hurt or kill an innocent person on the roads by checking a text or taking a call.

“Don’t do it – and don’t let others take the risk either.” You can follow the campaign on social media using the hashtag #itcanwait or follow the RAC campaign with #PhoneSafe and @PhoneSafe

if you have any questions relating to using your mobile phone whilst driving please visit Ask The Police

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