Police in Derbyshire will be clamping down on motorists using their mobile phones whilst driving.
Derbyshire Constabulary has joined a national operation, taking place between 8 and 21 February, with the aim of reducing the number of drivers using their devices whilst their vehicle is moving.
The force says the use of mobile phones is one of the 'fatal four' offences that contributes to thousands of deaths and serious injuries on the county's roads every year.
Between 2017 to 2020, some 1,207 Traffic Offence Reports (TOR) for mobile phone violations on Derbyshire roads were issued. Eighty-two road traffic collisions have involved one or more drivers using a mobile device and being distracted whilst driving, which has led to 133 people suffering injuries, 26 individuals attaining serious injuries and, sadly, one person losing their life.
The two-week operation will be targeting irresponsible drivers and those who continue to flout the law by using their mobile phones whilst behind the wheel.
Derbyshire's Roads Policing Unit (RPU) will be patrolling to apprehend offending drivers in both marked and unmarked vehicles. They warn that any drivers caught using their mobile phone whilst driving will be stopped and prosecuted for the offence.
PC Luke Christian, Derbyshire Constabulary RPU operational lead, said: “Our officers see on a regular basis the fatal consequences of distracted driving. Drivers are slower at seeing and reacting to hazards when using mobile devices, it can drastically impair your control of the vehicle and put you four times more likely to be involved in a crash.
"Unfortunately, many people who use hands free think that they have taken the safe option and, therefore, think that this operation doesn’t apply to them. However, they’d be surprised to learn that research shows when using a hands-free kit while behind the wheel can actually be as dangerous as drink driving.
"The message is simple - don’t use your mobile phone while driving, put it away before setting off. Place it somewhere like your glove compartment, so that you won’t be tempted to use it and if using hands-free devices, please do so responsibly and with care.
"If we see you using your mobile devices whilst driving, we are prepared to take action to see dangerous road users punished. No call, text, social media comment or streaming service is worth losing your life for, or risking the lives of fellow passengers, passing pedestrians or other road users."
What the law says
- It’s illegal to use a handheld mobile when driving, even if you’ve stopped at traffic lights or are queuing in traffic.
- It is only legal to use it if you are safely parked or if you need to call 999 in an emergency and it is unsafe or impractical to stop.
- It is also illegal to use a handheld phone or similar device when supervising a learner driver.
- Whilst using hands free devices (e.g. for navigation) is not illegal, it can be just as distracting to use as a handheld phone and equally as dangerous. If this distracts you and affects your ability to drive safely, you can still be prosecuted.
Offending drivers will face a fine of £200 and six points on their licence and if you’ve been driving less than two years, those six points will mean automatically losing your licence.
'It is every driver's responsibility to take care behind the wheel'
Derbyshire Fire & Rescue Service Prevention Crew Manager Matthew Bill said: “According to the RAC Report on Motoring 2019, 51 per cent of drivers aged between 17 and 24 confess to making or receiving calls on a handheld phone while they are driving.
"This is an alarmingly high rate, which is not only putting the individual at risk, but also their passengers, and any surrounding people and vehicles.
"We’d like to encourage everyone to have an honest conversation with their children, relatives and friends about using mobile phones whilst driving and the impact it may have on their and others lives. If someone loses their licences or suffers serious injuries in an RTC it can have a long-lasting impact on their social, work, and family life. Please help us keep Derbyshire’s roads safe, and avoid using a mobile phone whilst driving."
Derbyshire Police and Crime Commissioner Hardyal Dhindsa commented: “Driving whilst using a mobile phone not only puts drivers at risk of serious harm, but other innocent road users.
"No family deserves the pain and devastation of losing a loved one through such a selfish and completely avoidable act. It is every driver’s responsibility to take care behind the wheel and that means remaining fully alert and focussed. I hope drivers across Derbyshire will heed the warnings and play their part to make our roads as safe as possible.”
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