Essex and Suffolk named worst areas for using mobile phone behind the wheel

Essex and Suffolk were named as the two worst areas for driving while using a mobile phone in 2019 P

Essex and Suffolk were named as the two worst areas for driving while using a mobile phone in 2019 Picture (posed by model): Niall Carson/PA Wire - Credit: PA

Essex and Suffolk were the two worst areas in the country for driving while using a mobile phone in 2019, figures have revealed.

Analysis of Ministry of Justice (MoJ) statistics on motoring offences showed Essex had the highest rate of mobile phone-related driving offences per 1,000 people in 2019.

The data, analysed by car insurance broker Adrian Flux, revealed Essex took the top spot across England and Wales with a rate of 0.44 per 1,000 people.

Suffolk had the second highest rate in 2019, with 0.4 per 1,000 people, the statistics showed.

The average rate for mobile phone-related driving offences in England and Wales in 2019 was 0.17 per 1,000 people.

A spokeswoman for Essex Police said “driving comes with responsibility”.

She said: “We regularly carry out roads policing operations to ensure road users are driving safely and within the law, and sadly we still see a number of people putting their lives and that of passengers and other road users at risk.

“Using a mobile phone when driving is dangerous. They divert your attention away from the road and slow driver reaction times.

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“It is illegal to use a handheld mobile when driving whether you are moving, stopped at traffic lights or queuing in traffic. That doesn’t just mean making or receiving a call, it means reading a text, checking your social media channels or programming any kind of sat nav app.

“It is not illegal to use a hands-free phone while driving but even hands-free can divert your attention from the road and you can be prosecuted if you’re not in proper control of your vehicle.

“The penalties are the same as being caught using a handheld phone.

“Driving comes with responsibility and there is no excuse for poor driving.”

MORE: WATCH shocking dashcam footage of near-miss while driver uses mobile phoneSgt Barry Abbott, NSRAPT officer from Suffolk police, said the figures reflect a “high level of enforcement”.

He said: “Our roads and armed policing team officers are dedicated to reducing the use of mobile phones whilst driving 365 days a year – we also support the annual NPCC campaign ‘Operation Ringtone’, which is a week-long dedicated enforcement campaign.

“While it is alarming to see so many people using their mobile phones, these figures reflect a high level of enforcement and show how seriously we take these offences in Suffolk.

“Driving while using a mobile phone is one of the ‘fatal four’ offences which makes you more likely to be killed or seriously injured in a collision, along with drink driving, speeding and not wearing a seatbelt.

“Using a mobile phone can significantly distract you, reducing reaction time and awareness of the road and other road users around you.

“While you’re behind the wheel you are in charge of a machine, a machine which can seriously injure and even kill people if you’re not in proper control.

“Hazards on the road, especially when driving at speed, can change so quickly and in that moment, if you’re not concentrating 100% you could easily cause a crash, injure or kill someone else, or become a casualty yourself.”

Ten worst areas for mobile phone-related driving offences per 1,000 people (2019):

1. Essex 0.44

2. Suffolk 0.4

3. Greater London 0.38

4. West Yorkshire 0.34

5. Norfolk 0.33

6. Lincolnshire 0.24

7. Bedfordshire 0.24

8. North Yorkshire 0.23

9. Derbyshire 0.21

10. Hertfordshire 0.21