Sussex Police are cracking down on drivers using their mobile phones behind the wheel in support of a week-long enforcement campaign starting today (Monday, November 14).
It is the second dedicated part of a campaign which aims to make motorists aware of the potentially fatal consequences of being distracted by a mobile phone and to highlight the serious penalties they will face if they are caught.
The initiative started in May when officers across Sussex handed out advice and penalties to drivers spotted using a mobile phone, making calls, texting or surfing the web.
This week, officers will again be out taking action against anyone who is seen illegally using a mobile phone at the wheel.
Offending drivers will be prosecuted, say Sussex Police, to demonstrate their resolve to tackle the issue and as a consequence help cut the number of deaths and injuries on the county’s roads.
Superintendent Chris Moon, of the Surrey and Sussex Police Roads Policing Unit, said: “A mobile phone is part of everyday life for many of us, yet using a phone while driving is one of the biggest causes of fatal and serious crashes on our roads.
“Many of us will have seen drivers on their phone and the message is clearly not getting through to some people. It’s imperative the message of how dangerous it is gets out, and that Surrey and Sussex Police will prosecute anyone who is found using a mobile phone when driving.
“While it’s important that we educate motorists, the real lesson is to stop this dangerous habit once and for all, and to bring to justice those who put lives at risk.
“The recent jailing of a lorry driver for ten years after he killed four members of a family on the A34 in Berkshire because his attention was on his phone and not on the road ahead should surely be brutal enough for anyone to bring the danger and the consequences home. I am supporting the campaign with resources throughout the week and urge drivers to think of the consequences their actions can have on themselves and others.
“Studies show that you concentrate less on your driving and your reaction times slow when you are having a conversation on the phone, even if you are using a hands free kit. If you go a step further and take your hands off the wheel to text or use the internet, you are not even looking where you are going so cannot possibly be in control of your vehicle.
“If you need to use your phone, pull over and stop. Gambling with safety by using your phone at the wheel could cost someone their life or could cost you your liberty and a hefty fine.”
Antisocial driving can cost lives and using a mobile phone whilst behind the wheel could currently lead to three penalty points and a fine of £100. If you refuse to pay the fine you could be prosecuted, banned from driving and fined up to £1,000.
Drivers caught using handheld mobile phones are likely to face much tougher penalties with new government rules expected to see fines and points doubling in 2017, which means a young driver could lose their licence if they are caught using their phone while driving.
If officers can prove that you are driving dangerously while using your phone, you could be banned from the road and jailed for up to two years.
The Drive SMART partnership - a Surrey Police and Surrey County Council initiative focused on road safety - and the Sussex Safer Roads Partnership continue their work to make Surrey and Sussex’s roads the safest they can be, and support the National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC) message around the dangers of driving while using any hand-held device.
The campaign will run for a one week period from November 14 to November 20.
To report someone for using their mobile phone while driving, visit the Operation Crackdown website at www.operationcrackdown.co.uk