Lancashire Constabulary is supporting a national campaign to raise awareness of the dangers of using a mobile phone behind the wheel and the tough new penalties for those who flout the law.
From Wednesday 1 March 2017, new legislation comes into effect that means motorists who are caught using a mobile whilst driving will receive six points on their licence and a £200 fine, doubling the previous punishment.
In support of the tougher national stance, the constabulary will no longer offer education courses to drivers caught using their phone as an alternative to a fine and points. Those caught will automatically be issued with a penalty notice or be reported to court, depending on the circumstances of the offence.
For new drivers (within two years of passing their test) this could mean automatically losing their licence and having to re-apply for a provisional and re-take their driving test.
It is hoped that the tougher penalties will act as a deterrent and encourage people to think before they pick up a phone whilst driving.
Alongside this, a number of tactics will be used during a week of action from 1-7 March, to coincide with the legislative change.
Safety camera vans will be deployed to areas where complaints have been received such as outside schools and on major trunk roads, and the camera technicians will be able to capture evidence of offences.
Marked and un-marked police vehicles will be used to identify possible offenders, checkpoints with observation areas on the approach will be implemented across the county and officers will be responding to complaints about persistent offenders.
Chief Inspector Damian Kitchen said: “Inattention and distraction are as big an issue to road safety as speed, seatbelt use and drink or drug driving. The consequences of even a moment’s distraction can be devastating and our message is ‘it simply is not worth taking that call or sending that text’. Killing or seriously injuring someone just because you picked up your mobile phone will live with you forever, and destroy families. In addition you could go to prison, lose your job and your licence.
“Sadly too many motorists on our roads are taking the risk of using their mobile phone when driving. Whether it’s looking at a text or a new social media post, streaming a video behind the wheel, checking emails or making a phone call, all of these activities are dangerous. I get lots of correspondence from the public, councillors and MPs asking us to do more to tackle this issue. It really is becoming as socially unacceptable as drink driving and rightly so.
“We want all road users to be aware of the new legislation, although I suspect there will be some who view this as a money making scheme, but I want to refute that straight away. Police forces receive no revenue from the fines issued, which all go to the treasury. This change in legislation and renewed approach is about reducing casualties. Success for me will be that we don’t issue any fines again because people simply stop doing it.
“I would urge anyone getting behind the wheel to think before picking up a mobile phone, and to those who are passengers or know that someone is likely to be driving, don’t distract them with calls or texts or other forms of communication. Leave it until you’ve finished your journey and have stopped driving.”
More information can be found on the Lancashire Constabulary website: https://www.lancashire.police.uk/campaigns/distracted-driving-mobile-phones/