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) (15 – 28 April).
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.”
You can follow the daily work of all the of the Alliance roads policing teams in Devon, Cornwall and Dorset on social media:
• Alliance Roads Policing (Alliance RPT) – @RoadPolAlliance
• Alliance Roads Policing Specials (Alliance RP Specials) – @SC_RPU
• Devon and Cornwall No Excuse team (D&C Police No Excuse) – @DC_NoExcuse
• Devon and Cornwall Road Crime Unit (D&C Police RCU) – @RoadCrimeUnit
• Dorset No Excuse team (Dorset Police No Excuse) – @DorsetNoExcuse
• Dorset Traffic Police (Dorset Traffic Police) – @DorsetTraffic
• All often ably assisted by Alliance Armed Response Vehicles (Alliance ARV) – @AllianceArv
Devon & Cornwall Police – No Excuse – @DC.NoExcuse
Dorset Police No Excuse – @dorsetpolicenoexcuse
We can’t even text and walk – don’t cause a tragedy
From 15th – 28th April police forces across the UK will be reminding all drivers to switch their mobile phones off and put them away while driving.
The Alliance roads policing teams in Devon and Cornwall, which includes the No Excuse Team and Alliance Specials, assisted by Alliance ARV teams, are supporting this annual awareness raising and enforcement drive by the National Police Chief’s Council (NPCC).
Devon and Cornwall roads policing officers are vigilant throughout the year about the illegal use by irresponsible drivers of mobile phones and other devices.
Inspector Peter Thomas from the Alliance Roads Policing Teamsaid: “It has been illegal to use a hand-held phone or device while driving, or while stationary with the engine running, since December 2003.
“However, many motorists still fail to understand that it is illegal because it is incredibly dangerous. It is simply not possible to use a phone handheld and be in proper control of a vehicle at the same time.
“Neither the police nor the public will tolerate drivers who risk their own safety and that of other road users by using a mobile device while driving.”
“Texting, 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.”
You can use a hands-free phone while driving but you can still be prosecuted if you’re not in proper control of your vehicle.
Alison Hernandez, Police and Crime Commissioner for Devon and Cornwall, said that distraction driving had emerged as a major concern for residents of the force area while her office had been creating its road safety strategy.
“Last year we surveyed more than 5,000 residents of Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly and they told us overwhelmingly that distraction driving was their key road safety concern,” she said.
“Driving while being distracted has resulted in some horrendous accidents and loss of life in our force area and that’s why I am delighted that thanks to additional officers in roads policing and our No Excuse team offenders are more likely to be caught and more likely to be punished. The message from the police and public is loud and clear – driving while using a handheld mobile phone is simply unacceptable.”
Innovative and intensified operations like these weeks of action are used to target irresponsible and dangerous drivers alongside vigilance throughout the year. In 2017 and 2018, 1,386 drivers were issued with a penalty of a £200 fine and 6 points on their licence.
Why is it dangerous to use a handheld mobile device while driving?
1. Cognitive distraction –driving while using your phone requires you to concentrate on two ‘thinking’ tasks at once which our brains are not programmed to do effectively.
2. Physical impairment –holding your phone leaves only one hand in control of the steering wheel.
3. Visual impairment –when you glance down at your phone you take your eyes off the road ahead. Looking away for just a couple of seconds mean you can miss whole stretches of road which increases your risk of a collision.
How dangerous is using a handheld mobile phone or other device while driving?
Figures from the Transport Research Laboratory
An undistracted driver typically reacts in 1 second. A texting driver’s reaction time is 2.8 time greater when compared to a driver who is at the drink-drive limit in England and Wales.
Percentage increase in in distracted drivers response times are as follows:
13% Drink-drive limit
21% ‘High’ on cannabis
27% Using a hands-free phone
46% Using a handheld phone
It’s illegal to use a handheld mobile phone (or other device) while driving
•This includes holding and using your mobile to make a call, look at a text or check social media. It applies even if you’re stopped at traffic lights or queuing in traffic.
If you’re caught using a handheld phone (or other device) while driving
•You’ll get 6 penalty points on your licence and a fine of £200.
•For new drivers, if you get 6 points in the first two years after passing your test, you will lose your licence.
Using hands-free devices
•You can use a hands-free phone while driving but you can still be prosecuted if you’re not in proper control of your vehicle.
•Hands free for calling is permitted when used safely, through technology such as Bluetooth and in-car voice activation.
•Mobile phones may also be connected to car “infotainment” systems –but the driver must not hold the phone at any time while driving.
•A mobile phone can be used for navigation if it is hands free and should be securely mounted in a cradle.