Staffordshire officers, who are out every day of the week and stopping the worst road traffic offences, are being featured on the next episode of Crimewatch. The BBC show will be aired on Monday 6 March at 9pm and will see Staffordshire officers tackling this increasing problem.
Staffordshire’s efforts are running in cooperation with the National Police Chief Council’s (NPCC) campaign. The NPCC are working with forces across the country to run targeted operations and participating in a week of enforcement action against this offence. A similar campaign took place in January which stopped 5,614 vehicles and detected 3,844 mobile phone offences.
Research from the RAC has found 31% of drivers admit to using a handheld phone at the wheel, compared with 8% in 2014, and 20% of drivers feel it is safe to check social media on their phone in stationary traffic, up from 14% in 2014. Sadly these increasing attitudes have resulted in 2,100 accidents and 22 fatal accidents that were directly caused by drivers using a mobile phone in the five years up to 2015. Sadly Staffordshire Police believe there are actually many more incidents caused by drivers using their mobile phone that have not been reported or they are unable to prove.
It has been illegal to drive whilst using a mobile phone since 2003. But to discourage the increasing use of mobiles whilst driving, the law will change on 1 March. Drivers found to be using their mobiles will be issued a fixed penalty notice of six points and a £200 fine.
Staffordshire Police are calling on all drivers to sign an online pledge called BePhoneSmart. Organised by the RAC, it gives drivers the chance to make a promise – to themselves, their family and their employer – that they won’t use a handheld phone while at the wheel. Drivers who make the promise can quickly share it across social media profiles and encourage others to do the same.
Inspector Matt Derrick, from Staffordshire Police’s road crime team, said: “We can’t stress enough that using your mobile phone whilst driving is dangerous and irresponsible. There are no excuses – either pull over in a safe location or ignore your phone until you arrive at your location.
“Our officers are ready and prepared to issue penalty notices to all drivers found to be using a mobile phone whilst driving. Don’t be one of them, instead take two minutes and pledge to never use your mobile phone and endanger those around you.”
To fill out the BePhoneSmart pledge, go to www.bephonesmart.uk.