Suffolk: More motorists than ever before caught using mobile phones

PUBLISHED: 06:00 10 April 2012

A motorist using a mobile phone

A motorist using a mobile phone

A ROAD safety charity warned more and more lives are being jeopardised after a 33% rise was revealed in the number of Suffolk motorists caught using mobile phones while driving.

The substantial increase occurred over a two-year period, according to figures from Suffolk Constabulary. A total of 2,650 drivers were given fixed penalty notices in 2011, compared to 1,998 in 2010.

Police have said additional enforcement is likely to only be part of the reason for the alarming rise.

Road safety organisation Brake said the figures show increasing numbers of people are prepared to put lives at risk for the sake of a phone call or a text message. It also called for further legislation to be brought in to ban hands-free phones being used while drivers are at the wheel.

Brake spokesman Richard Coteau said: “Whether texting, using the web or social networking, using a hand-held phone at the wheel is illegal and kills, so there should be no excuses. The use of mobile phones, whether hand-held or hands-free, while driving reduces concentration and shows a flagrant disregard for safety.

“These statistics reveal a worrying increase in the number of people in Suffolk taking risks with their own and other peoples’ lives. Brake urges all drivers to turn off their phone and put it out of reach when driving to prevent temptation.”

Fixed penalties for such offences should be greatly increased “to act as a real deterrent” and the Government should also ban hands-free phones at the wheel, in line with research showing the risk is just as great due to the distraction of the call, he said.

Suffolk police have pledged to continue cracking down on the problem. Inspector Des Pooley, of the force’s roads policing unit, said: “Driving while using a mobile phone is a serious offence and is a factor that contributes to road traffic collisions just as much as drink, drugs, speed or not wearing a seatbelt.

“Over the past couple of years, we have conducted more targeted patrols to identify and target people using their mobile phone at the wheel. This has been part of a number of high profile national campaigns as well as our own local initiatives.

“In the first instance, any offender is dealt with my way of a fixed penalty notice, consisting of a fine and three points added to their licence. All cases are dealt with on an individual basis and any significant additional factors such as excess speed, or number of previous offences, could result in further court action.”

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