Nationwide 'distracted driving' campaign gets underway

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, including the four forces of EMopSS, 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.

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.

EMOpSS has been running a hard hitting campaign to highlight the horrific consequences of driving on a mobile phone under the banner #itcanwait. Officers have made a film with Liese Bowers-Straw from Kirkby in Ashfield 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.

A Fatal4 clinic will be held in Leicestershire during the week and officers and Special Constables will be patrolling in unmarked cars to tackle drivers on their mobiles.

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.”

Jonathan Clarkson, spokesperson for the Leicester, Leicestershire & Rutland Road Safety Partnership, said; “Despite our best efforts to educate motorists as to the dangers of being distracted by using a mobile phone while driving, Leicestershire Police recorded 2399 mobile phone offences in the three years from January 2014 to December 2016. We fully support this national campaign and hope that it helps reduce the numbers of those people killed or seriously injured on our roads.”

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

Source:: Leicestershire Police News

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