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Project 'No Excuse' continues to tackle bad driving

Project ‘no excuse’, as part of the Dorset Road Safe partnership’s casualty reduction campaign, continues to try and change the mindset of bad and inconsiderate drivers.

The ‘no excuse’ team, consisting of police officers using marked and unmarked cars and motorcycles and supported by safety camera vans, processed a further 1,546 offences in February 2012 bringing the total so far for 2012 to 2,987 offences. The number of offences for the same period in 2011 was 3,113.

As ever, comments made by some of the offending motorists amazed officers.

A speeding driver in Poole said: ''If it was school time I would not have done it.”

A driver was stopped for doing 121 miles per hour on the Tolpuddle dual carriageway. He said he wasn’t looking at the speedometer.

A man stopped for travelling at 39 miles per hour through Mosterton said: “Ten years ago I’d have been going much faster through here.”

One driver caught in Christchurch stated that he did not have his seat belt on as he had been driving before the law said you had to wear one.

A driver stopped for speeding in Dorchester said: “I never speed in Dorset because I know I'll get caught.”

Of the total number of offences detected in 2012 to date, 1,283 were officer issued tickets. Of the tickets issued, 11% were for distraction offences – for example, using a mobile phone, updating an iPod and taking photos while driving.

In addition, 12% of officer issued tickets were for people not wearing a seatbelt. For the same period in 2011, this figure was 28%.

Other offences detected included driving without a valid licence, driving with no MOT, driving without insurance, driving with an iced over or frosted windscreen, not being in proper control of the vehicle, driving a car in a dangerous condition and driving through a red light.

Brian Austin, ‘no excuse’ Project Manager, said: “Evidence over the last year clearly indicates some drivers have difficulty distinguishing between using a mobile phone and using some other communication device such as an iPhone or iPod while driving.

“A number of motorists failed to understand how driving and carrying out a conversation while holding a mobile can be just as dangerous as driving and taking their hands off the steering wheel to take a photo.

“It is important for drivers to understand the relevant legislation.”

An extract concerning mobile phones or other specified hand held devices is provided below:

Regulation 110 of the Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986 (as inserted by the Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) (Amendment) (No 4) Regulations 2003 creates a prohibition on the use of mobile telephones in motor vehicles.

110(1) No person shall drive a motor vehicle on a road if he is using (for meaning of 'using' see below)

(a) a hand-held mobile telephone; or
(b) a hand-held device of a kind specified in paragraph (4).

110(4) A device referred to in paragraphs (1)(b), (2)(b) and (3)(b) is a device, other than a two-way radio, which performs an interactive communication function by transmitting and receiving data.

110(6) For the purposes of this regulation -

(a) a mobile telephone or other device is to be treated as hand-held if it is, or must be, held at some point during the course of making or receiving a call or performing any other interactive communication function;
(b) a person supervises the holder of a provisional licence if he does so pursuant to a condition imposed on that licence holder prescribed under section 97(3)(a) of the Road Traffic Act 1988 (grant of provisional licence);
(c) interactive communication function includes the following -

(i) sending or receiving oral or written messages;
(ii) sending or receiving facsimile documents;
(iii) sending or receiving still or moving images; and
(iv) providing access to the internet;

Where the driver insists that he / she was merely listening, reading, watching, checking for a phone number, speaking, looking at pictures, checking out music or for any other similar function of the phone - then consideration should be given to other offences, typically no proper controlor due care/reasonable consideration.

Brian Austin continued: “Some of the comments made by offending motorists who have been stopped by officers show that a number of drivers do not believe that any type of distraction while driving is a risk.”

One driver stopped for using his mobile in Bridport said that he was viewing pictures and not calling anyone so he didn’t think he’d committed an offence. He was wrong.

A woman stopped for using her mobile phone said she was just putting her calories into her iPhone app.

Another woman driving a Range Rover along Turbary Park Avenue thought it was legal to text whilst driving. She only thought it was an offence to talk on the phone. She was wrong.

Officers stopped a van driver as they could clearly see a blue light reflecting onto him. When asked if there was any reason he was using his mobile phone he replied: “I wasn’t on my phone – I had the laptop open on my lap and was reading that.”

A driver stopped in Wareham claimed that steering with one hand whilst holding the phone and checking the screen to see who was calling whilst activating the speaker wasn't using the phone.

A new driver was stopped holding his phone up to his ear. His immediate excuse to officers was: "I wasn’t on the phone, I was listening to the cricket."

“The no excuse team and other road safety partners actively target those that deliberately put themselves and others at risk by using their mobile phones and any device that may cause a distraction.

“New signage is also in production to remind drivers against using their mobile phones whilst driving,” said Brian Austin.

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