Suffolk: Police urge drivers and cyclists to turn phones off while they are on the roads
Police in Suffolk are urging all road users to give their full attention to the road when they travel in support of Brake Road Safety Week.
Avoiding distractions is the theme of the national awareness campaign which is running all this week.
In East Anglia, 80,302 drivers have received penalty points for using their mobile phone at the wheel or being otherwise distracted, 5,281 of those have received six points or more. While in Suffolk, 587 fixed penalty notices were issued in 2011 for driving with a mobile phone.
As well as targeting drivers with focused patrols, officers will be speaking to young people through education sessions and holding events to take the message to the whole community.
Inspector Chris Brooks, of the Norfolk and Suffolk Roads Policing Unit, said: “It doesn’t matter if your journey is by car, motorbike or pedal cycle – you need to stay focused and aware of what is happening around you, or you put yourself at risk of being involved in a collision.
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“Ignore your mobile phone or switch it off when you are driving or cycling. It will distract you from your journey which makes it less safe and means you and other road users stand a greater chance of being involved in a serious collision.
“It is too easy to think about where you are going rather than how you get there.
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“Take time to drive or ride carefully – keep your mind on the road and arrive unscathed.”
The issue is even more important as winter approaches and the nights get darker.
The ambulance service, which is supporting the campaign, receives almost 1,500 emergency 999 calls a month to road traffic collisions, but this figure could rise over the winter period as the days become shorter and the weather becomes more treacherous.
Andy Reid, head of driver training and development at the East of England Ambulance Service, said: “It’s always important to give your full attention when you’re doing any activity on or near the road, but with winter coming up it’s even more important as the weather can create extra dangers.”
As well as avoiding unnecessary distractions, EEAST has issued some general advice to help keep people safe on the roads over the winter.
Mr Reid said: “We’re urging people to ensure they leave an appropriate distance between themselves and the vehicle ahead when driving and to always stick to the speed limits. Check the weather forecast before you head out but remember that conditions could change and deteriorate rapidly.
“With the party season coming up it’s important to know who your designated driver is so you’re not tempted to drink and drive.
“We’re also asking pedestrians and cyclists to remain vigilant when using the roads,” added Mr Reid. “Ensure you’re wearing hi-visibility clothing and if you’re cycling make sure you use lights in the dark.
“It’s also important you follow the rules of the Highway Code, and that parents educate their children about these rules, so that we can help minimise casualty numbers on the roads this winter.”
Brake is campaigning for hands-free phones to be banned from vehicles, and for calling or texting while behind the wheel to be punishable with a fine of between £500 and £1,000.