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Preston Police to up patrols as new mobile phone driving penalties come in

Posted on - 25th February, 2017 - 7:00pm | Author - | Posted in - Crime, News, Roads, Transport
Expect to see an increased police presence at major roads and accident hot spots Pic: Tony Worrall
Expect to see an increased police presence at major roads and accident hot spots Pic: Tony Worrall

Police in Preston are preparing to clamp down on drivers using mobile phones as new tougher penalties come into place.

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From Wednesday (1 March) anyone caught using a mobile phone whilst driving is to receive six points on their licence and a £200 fine.

The new legislation doubles the previous penalty and also removes the current option to refer a driver to an education course as an alternative to a fine and points.

Anyone caught using their phone will be automatically issued with a penalty notice or be reported to court.

Lancashire Police are preparing to deploy a number of tactics for the first week once the new laws come into force.

Read more: Average speed cameras going up in London Road

Safety camera vans are being deployed outside schools and on major roads – and camera technicians will be able to get evidence of offenders.

Marked and unmarked police vehicles will also be on patrol as well as checkpoints set up.

Chief Inspector Damian Kitchen said: “Inattention and distraction are as big an issue to road safety as speed, seatbelt use and drink or drug driving. The consequences of even a moment’s distraction can be devastating and our message is ‘it simply is not worth taking that call or sending that text’. Killing or seriously injuring someone just because you picked up your mobile phone will live with you forever, and destroy families. In addition you could go to prison, lose your job and your licence.

“Sadly too many motorists on our roads are taking the risk of using their mobile phone when driving. Whether it’s looking at a text or a new social media post, streaming a video behind the wheel, checking emails or making a phone call, all of these activities are dangerous. I get lots of correspondence from the public, councillors and MPs asking us to do more to tackle this issue. It really is becoming as socially unacceptable as drink driving and rightly so.

“We want all road users to be aware of the new legislation, although I suspect there will be some who view this as a money making scheme, but I want to refute that straight away. Police forces receive no revenue from the fines issued, which all go to the treasury. This change in legislation and renewed approach is about reducing casualties. Success for me will be that we don’t issue any fines again because people simply stop doing it.

“I would urge anyone getting behind the wheel to think before picking up a mobile phone, and to those who are passengers or know that someone is likely to be driving, don’t distract them with calls or texts or other forms of communication. Leave it until you’ve finished your journey and have stopped driving.”

Read more: Where the average speed cameras are going across Lancashire

Officers will also respond to complaints about persistent offers.

Lancashire Police and Crime Commissioner Clive Grunshaw said: “This new legislation is more than welcome here in Lancashire and I hope that it will encourage drivers to stop and think before they use their mobile phone to check a message, answer a call or even scroll through their social media profiles when they are driving.

“It is completely unacceptable to take your eyes of the road even for a split second whether you’re a careful driver or not. It only takes that split second to lose concentration resulting in a serious or even fatal collision.

“The risks of using a mobile phone behind the wheel have always been very clear and if this new law results in making Lancashire’s roads safer then I completely back the change, 100 per cent.”

During 2016 more than 1,100 motorists were detected and issued with a ticket for driving whilst using a mobile phone in Lancashire.

What do you think of the new tougher penalties? Let us know in the comments below

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