Getting tough on mobile phones
Tougher measures against people who use handheld devices while driving have been getting coverage in the national media recently. From next April the penalty for using a handheld device while driving will double from a £100 fine and 3 points to a £200 and six points. Although using hands free devices is legal, you can still be prosecuted if their use affects your driving – and the best advice is to not use them at all and stay 100% focussed on the job of driving.
Some coverage of this issue cited a lack of police enforcement as a big problem. However in Essex the message is clear; 400-500 drivers per month are caught by Essex Police using a mobile phone or driving while distracted – so expect to be caught.
Adam Pipe, the Essex Police casualty reduction manager for the SERP told the Colchester Gazette: “It’s been shown that using a mobile phone while driving is as dangerous, if not more dangerous, than drink driving. In particular this year, we have seen so many collisions where distractions have been the cause. Take the A12 for example – how many times do you see people sitting in lane two, distracted by their phone? Something minor happens in front of them, causing them to go into the back of someone, which then causes something more serious. There’s a belief that police are not interested but we are now reporting 400 to 500 people a month and the public need to believe they will be prosecuted. So sometimes we need to capture evidence without being there, which is where the dash cam comes in. While we don’t want vigilantes on the road, we are now acting on dash cam footage the people provide us with. We are also covert. We might be in plain cars and actually we see more offences that way.”