Motorists ignore mobile phone warnings

MORE than 2,500 motorists in Suffolk were fined last year for using their mobile phone while driving, it was revealed yesterday.The worrying figure emerged as Suffolk police launched its Stay Safe campaign in a bid to cut the number of people killed or seriously injured on the county's roads.

MORE than 2,500 motorists in Suffolk were fined last year for using their mobile phone while driving, it was revealed yesterday.

The worrying figure emerged as Suffolk police launched its Stay Safe campaign in a bid to cut the number of people killed or seriously injured on the county's roads.

It coincides with new legislation introduced this week to increase the penalty for using hand-held phones while behind the wheel from a fine of £30 to £60 plus three penalty points on the driver's licence.

Last year, 47 people died on Suffolk's roads as a result of 40 collisions, an increase of 11 deaths from 2005 when 36 people were killed as a result of 33 collisions, police said yesterday.


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Meanwhile the number of killed or seriously injured casualties was down from 381 to 258 - a drop of 6.1%.

The aim of this latest campaign, which will focus on speeding, failure to wear seatbelts, drink or drug driving and those who use mobile phones while driving, is to reduce the number of casualties on the county's roads by 40%.

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Last year police officers issued 4,112 motorists with fixed penalty notices (FPNs) for speeding, 2,576 for using a hand-held mobile phone or other hand-held device while driving, 3,480 for not wearing a seatbelt and arrested 1,321 people for drink or drug driving.

In January this year they have already handed out 332 FPNs for speeding, 288 for using a mobile phone while driving, 238 for not wearing a seatbelt and arrested 98 motorists for drink or drug driving.

Chief inspector Martin Barnes-Smith, head of Suffolk Constabulary's road policing unit, said he could not understand why some motorists continued to flout the law and put their lives at risk.

“We issue countless pieces of advice through the media, information leaflets, poster campaigns and casualty reduction days and yet incredibly, it would appear the message is not getting across to everyone,” he said. “It's a great concern because certain people just aren't listening.

“It's been proven that wearing a seatbelt can save your life and you would think it would be a simple choice to make - don't wear when and die or wear one and don't die. I know what I would do.”

Mr Barnes-Smith said the number of people who continued to use mobile phones while driving was also disappointing.

“Its obviously too early to say what sort of impact the new laws will have and we'll have to wait and see but hopefully people will start to get the idea,” he said. “Not only does it affect you but it affects other people as well. The trouble is it is human nature that when a phone rings we want to answer it and that, unfortunately, is what is happening in a lot of cases.

“We need to get into society and change people's attitudes - is answering your phone call really more important than killing someone? It's a culture change.”

craig.robinson@eadt.co.uk

The number of motorists issued with fixed penalty notices (FPNs) or arrested for driving offences in 2006 and January this year.

Offence 2006 January 2007

Speeding (FPN) 4,112 332

Using a mobile phone while driving (FPN) 2,576 288

Not wearing a seatbelt offences (FPN) 3,480 238

Drink or drug driving (arrests) 1,321 98

*Source: Suffolk Constabulary

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