Mobile phone at the wheel crackdown in Dorset as punishment doubles

28 February 2017
The number of points and the fine issued to motorists for using a mobile phone at the wheel has doubled, with Dorset Police taking part in a national week-long enforcement and education campaign.

Motorists caught using a mobile phone have until recently, been given three penalty points and a minimum fine of £100. Under the new rules introduced today, drivers will receive six points on their licence and a £200 fine. Dorset drivers will also no longer be eligible for a driver awareness course.

Any drivers with less than two years’ experience caught using their phone at the wheel will have their licence revoked by the DVLA and will have to retake their test, facing inevitable increased insurance premiums. More experienced drivers also risk going to court if they offend twice, with a possible fine of up to £1,000 and at least a six-month driving ban.

Throughout the campaign week which runs from Wednesday 1 March to Tuesday 7 March 2017, Dorset Police will be increasing enforcement patrols and reminding drivers of the dangers of being distracted at the wheel.

Sergeant Joe Pardey, from the Alliance Roads Policing department, said: “Using a mobile phone at the wheel can have devastating consequences, not only to you and those around you, but other road users. We want to make using a mobile whilst driving as socially unacceptable as drink or drug driving.

“It has been illegal to use a hand-held phone or similar device while driving or riding a motorcycle since December 2003. However, many motorists still fail to see that it is not possible to use a phone and be in proper control of a vehicle.

“Dorset Police carried out a week-long mobile phone enforcement campaign in January, issuing 91 fixed penalty notices to drivers for using a mobile phone at the wheel.

“We’re beginning to see an increase in the number of people using their phones while driving to check social media and streaming music, not just make calls and texts. Whatever the reason, it can wait until your journey is over. Nothing is more important than your safety and the safety of those around you.”

A report published by the RAC in September 2016 stated that 31 per cent of drivers now admit to using a mobile phone when driving, up from eight per cent in 2014.

Sergeant Pardey continued: “As an officer who deals with the often tragic aftermath when a driver is distracted at the wheel, I would like to make a personal plea to the driving public to think about their actions. You may think liking your friends Instagram post or Snapchatting your drive home is the most important thing at the time, but your priorities can change in a second.”

Dorset Police and Crime Commissioner, Martyn Underhill, said: “A licence to drive can be lethal in the wrong hands. Police officers cannot be everywhere and the responsibility to drive safely should not be dependent on the risk of being caught.

“All motorists have a fundamental responsibility to behave with due care and attention, drive safely and ensure they do not put themselves or others in danger.”

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