Police warn of ‘a zero tolerance approach’ when it comes to new mobile phone laws

Cleveland and Durham’s Specialist Operations Unit is to take part in a nationally co-ordinated week-long operation to enforce new penalties for using a mobile phone while driving.

The enforcement campaign runs from Wednesday, March, 1 until Tuesday March, 7.

The campaign, which is co-ordinated by the NPCC (National Police Chief’s Council), and is supported by THINK! Road Safety will see targeted operations, as well as, awareness-raising of the new penalties for this offence which come into force today.

Drivers caught using their mobiles will now be subject to a £200 fine and six points on their licence.

The new legislation could have a huge effect on new drivers in their probationary period. The probationary period for someone who has just passed their driving test is two years. In this time if a new driver receives six points their licence will be revoked.

This is the second week of action this year; during a week long campaign which began on Monday 23rdJanuary, a total of 133 motorists were caught using their mobile phones whilst driving; 61 of those in Cleveland and 72 in County Durham and Darlington.

It is hoped the new legislation will deter drivers from using any kind of electronic device at the wheel which will distract them from driving.

Research has found that being distracted by a phone while driving, regardless of whether it is being used to make calls, messages or going online can make a driver up to 25 times more likely to be involved in a collision.    /more

Inspector Harry Simpson from the CDSOU, said any drivers taking the risk of using a phone, or being otherwise seriously distracted while at the wheel could expect no second chances:

“We will have a number of officers dedicated to this campaign across the week, using unmarked as well as marked police cars. Over the years there have been plenty of educational campaigns so no-one can claim to be unaware this is against the law and also incredibly dangerous. Despite this education and media interest over 130 people were caught using their mobile phones last month in a week long campaign.”

“There are clearly some people who feel the law doesn’t apply to them. But over the next week they will discover our officers are making this offence a priority and that we have a zero-tolerance approach.”

“It is one of the most common complaints we receive. To remove the temptation to check your phone whilst driving turn it on silent and put it in the glove box. Out of sight and out of mind”

“Using a phone whilst driving could cost you your licence. Using a phone whilst driving and injuring or killing someone will cost your freedom as well as your licence. Death by dangerous driving carries a sentence of up to 14 years in prison.  When you are released you will still have to live with yourself.”

Police and Crime Commissioner Barry Coppinger added: As stated in my Police and Crime Plan, I’m committed to reducing injury and death on the roads, and these tighter laws will help to make this a reality.  

“People have had long enough to realise using mobile phones while driving is dangerous and reckless; now is the time to toughen up and teach offenders a lesson.”