In April ,the Alliance roads policing teams took part in a concentrated crackdown on drivers using mobile phones handheld while driving in Devon and Cornwall as part of a national campaign of intensified enforcement and awareness raising, led by the National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC).
66 drivers were caught and issued with a £200 penalty and will also receive six points on their licence. There are some new drivers amongst those caught who, because they only had six points available in their first two years on the road, will now lose their licence.
Roads policing officers in Devon and Cornwall are vigilant throughout the year to the illegal use by drivers of mobile phones and other devices. Intensified operations are also used to target irresponsible and dangerous drivers in a bid to improve road safety.
Inspector Peter Thomas from the Alliance Roads Policing Team said: “It has been illegal to use a hand-held phone or similar device while driving, or while stationary with the engine running, since December 2003.
“Many motorists still fail to understand that it is illegal because it is simply not possible to use a phone handheld and be in proper control of a vehicle at the same time. We’ve moved beyond people holding a phone to their ear while taking a call to people actually tapping away at apps. Neither the police nor the public will tolerate such behaviour.”
“During the No Excuse team’s operation in Plymouth, police spotters used the unique viewpoint offered by riding on the top deck of a double decker bus supplied by Plymouth Citybus. All the drivers they caught had their phones on their laps. That is handheld use of a mobile device and it is incredibly selfish and dangerous.”
On 23 April, My Red Thumb day ( www.myredthumb.com ), Devon and Cornwall roads policing officers worked together with Highways England, Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) road fuel team and the Peninsula Road Safety Partnership. As well as finding drivers on their mobile phones, they also found 167 speeding offences, three drivers with no valid MOT, one without a seatbelt and detained two under the misuse of drugs act.
Alison Hernandez, Police and Crime Commissioner for Devon and Cornwall, holds the national portfolio for road safety with the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners. She said she welcomed the efforts made by the force to make the region’s roads safer.
“The number of people killed and seriously injured on the roads in Devon and Cornwall is cause for serious concern – that’s why in the last year we’ve responded by creating a No Excuse team to help enforce the law and educate people about the ‘fatal five’ which includes driving while using a handheld mobile phone.
“Distraction driving is the top concern of our community as we identified in year’s summer survey. Our community expects tough action to tackle it.”
Inspector Thomas concluded: “Texting, using social media apps, answering a call when not using hands-free kit, streaming video or taking a selfie can all wait until your journey is over. Nothing is more important than your safety and the safety of road users around you.”