THE serious consequences of using a mobile phone or other mobile devices when driving are highlighted in a joint campaign by Warwickshire County Council and Warwickshire Police.
A radio campaign will be used to remind people that using phones to make calls and send texts whilst behind the wheel is both dangerous and illegal. At the same time Warwickshire Police will be clamping down on the problem.
Research shows that people are up to four times more likely to have a crash when using phones because their attention is distracted. Driver’s reactions are hindered, they become less aware of what is happening around and they are less likely to maintain an appropriate speed.
The introduction of a £60 fine and 3 penalty points for drivers who use a hand held mobile phone when driving has failed to deter many drivers from doing this. A survey by What Car? (2009) showed that 36 per cent of motorists admitted to using a handheld mobile phone while driving their car suggesting that many drivers are either willing to accept the penalties or consider that the risk of being caught is negligible.
However, penalties can be severe. Drivers may well be unaware that if they are taken to court for using a mobile phone, which would happen if it is shown that they were driving dangerously whilst using a phone or their use of a phone contributed to a collision occurring, they could face a substantial fine, a driving disqualification and even a jail sentence.
Warwickshire County Councillor Richard Hobbs, portfolio holder for community protection said: “It is astounding that drivers are willing to allow themselves to be distracted by a mobile phone or other devices like MP3 players. Driving safely requires complete focus and if you are using a phone you are not concentrating sufficiently on your driving. Even a split second lapse could result in a crash.”
Supt. Adrian McGee, Warwickshire Police added: “It is dangerous and illegal to use a hand held mobile while driving and I take a very dim view of any driver willing to jeopardise the safety of themselves and other road users by phoning or texting while driving.
“Officers will be giving this issue particular attention this month and any driver spotted breaking the law can expect to be prosecuted. My advice is to switch off your mobile phone before you drive off.
“Callers also have an important role in keeping the roads safe. If the person you are speaking to is driving please end the call immediately and call them back later.”