Six Points and £200 - tough news penalty for mobile phone use behind the wheel

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Motorists who use a mobile phone whilst driving are being told to “Put it Away” as a part of a week-long campaign starting today, Monday January 23.

Officers from the Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire Road Policing Unit will be carrying out extra enforcement operations to tackle the issue.

In addition to enforcement work, social media materials from the Hertfordshire Road Safety Partnership’s “Put it Away” campaign will be used across the three counties to highlight the dangers of using a mobile phone whilst driving.

The operation coincides with a week-long campaign being conducted by the National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC).

The Government has announced plans to double the penalties for being caught using a phone behind the wheel to six points and a £200 fine in 2017. For people who have been driving for less than two years this could mean a ban for one offence.

Driving while using a mobile phone is considered one of the ‘fatal four’ driving offences, along with speeding, not wearing a seatbelt and drink or drug driving.

Sergeant Ian Manley said: “Using a mobile phone whilst driving significantly increases your chances of being involved in a serious, even fatal collision.

“I hope this campaign helps to get an important safety message across to the public that using a mobile phone whilst driving is unacceptable. It puts not only your life at risk, but also the lives of others.

“We urge people to turn their phone off before they start their journey and put it away. Even a brief distraction could have serious consequences.”

Matt Staton, of the Peterborough and Cambridgeshire Road Safety Partnership, said: “Over the last 30 years we have seen a big change in attitudes towards drinking and driving, to the point where most people think it is completely unacceptable. Using a mobile phone while driving has been shown to have similar effects to being over the limit, so we’d like to see people’s attitudes to the issue change in the same way.”

Police and Crime Commissioner Jason Ablewhite said: “I am fully supportive of any campaign reminding drivers not to use mobile phones while driving. People need to take responsibility for their actions. I have been out on a number of occasions with traffic officers on the county’s roads and have been shocked to see how many people continue to put their own lives and those of others at risk. Together we must do everything we can to make using mobile phones whilst driving as socially unacceptable as drink or drug driving.”