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Tough New Penalties For Mobile Phone Use Behind The Wheel

Author: Northants Police Published: 25th January 2017 12:43

Six points and £200 - tough new penalty for mobile use behind the wheelSix points and £200 - tough new penalty for mobile use behind the wheel

The four police forces of the East Midlands Operational Support Service (EMOpSS)* are supporting a national campaign to raise awareness about tough new penalties for driving while using a mobile phone.

From March 1 2017, drivers will receive six points on their driving licence and receive a £200 fine. These changes will have a significant impact on young drivers in particular as they risk having their driving licence revoked following a first offence.  Motorists will no longer be offered the opportunity to go on a driver awareness course.

Police forces across the country are working with road safety partnerships and the government during a week long campaign (from Monday 23 January to Sunday 29 January) to increase awareness of the changes to the legislation – the focus of the campaign is mainly on education. A second campaign will run in March which will focus more heavily on enforcement.

It is illegal to use a mobile phone, held in the hand, whilst driving or while stopped with the engine on, it has been illegal since December 2003 but there has been a worrying shift in attitudes to mobile phone use behind the wheel. The RAC surveyed 1,714 motorists and 31% of them said they used a handheld phone behind the wheel compared with 8% in 2014.

Northamptonshire Police will be supporting the campaign and, as part of their regular community engagement days, Safer Roads Team officers will continue to educate drivers about the dangers of distraction and using mobile phones and inform them of the new penalties that coming into force on 1 March.

PC David Lee from the joint Safer Roads Team (Northamptonshire Police and Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service) said: “The aim of the campaign is ultimately to make driving while distracted as socially unacceptable as drink driving. We want to raise awareness about the forthcoming changes to the penalties for driving while using a mobile phone and highlight the potential dangers of doing so.

“While we will be carrying out enforcement where necessary, we want to try and get the message across through education, and will be stopping and talking to drivers to give advice and information, to encourage them to think about and change their driving habits.”

Across the East Midlands region, EMOpSS, which provides roads policing and collision investigation to the communities Northamptonshire, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire, has been running a hard hitting campaign to highlight the horrific consequences of driving on a mobile phone under the banner #itcanwait.  

Officers made a film with Liese Bowers-Straw from Kirkby in Ashfield in Nottinghamshire, who was left with serious injuries following a collision on the M1 in November 2014.  The collision was caused by a driver who was using her mobile phone while driving.  

Chief Inspector Mark Garthwaite is the lead for roads policing within EMOpSS said:

“We want to draw attention to the risks drivers are taking by using their mobile phone while driving. What is concerning is that drivers aren’t just making a phone call they are texting and using the internet as well when they should be concentrating on the road.  

“This campaign is about increasing awareness of the tougher new penalties and we’ll be sending messages out on social media throughout the week but officers will also be ticketing motorists who are caught using their mobile phones throughout the EMOpSS region.”

You can follow the campaign on social media using the following hashtags: #eyesontheroad #mindsontheroad #itcanwait and #dontriskit.

* EMOpSS provides roads policing and collision investigation to the communities of Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Northamptonshire and Nottinghamshire. It also provides armed policing response, firearms training and specialist search skills and dog support.

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