On Air NATHAN COOPER

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Drivers using a phone four times more likely to crash

Phone - at the wheel

7:01pm 14th November 2016

A week-long campaign starts today, to make people in the Thames Valley realise how dangerous it is to use their phone at the wheel.

The recent collision on the A34 highlighted more than ever just how devastating the consequences of deciding to use your mobile phone behind the wheel can be.

Four people tragically lost their lives as a result of lorry driver Tomasz Kroker ignoring the warnings and using his mobile phone while driving in August.

Yet despite the obvious dangers and loss of life, motorists continue to break the law.

This week, officers across Thames Valley and Hampshire have joined a nationwide crackdown on people using their phones behind the wheel.

Roads Policing officers from the Joint Operations Unit will be carrying out dedicated operations stopping drivers using their phones while driving, issuing penalties, as well as educating motorists about the dangers.

Police Car - Thames Valley Police (TVP)

This campaign is thesecond of the yearand isnot only looking at mobile phone use, but also recording the number of distraction offences disclosed.During the last weeklong campaign in May 2016, a total of 319 people were caught using a mobile phone while driving, and 12 distraction offences were recorded.

Thames Valley Police Road Safety Sergeant Chris Appleby said:

"Using a mobile phone while driving is one of the Fatal 4 offences (the others are speeding, drink/drug-driving and seat belts) and causes deaths on our roads every year.

"Using a handheld mobile device and causing a fatal crash is devastating to the victims and their families, while the offending driver, if found guilty, can be sentenced to years of imprisonment.

"Last week Tomasz Kroker was sentenced to 10 years' imprisonment after he killed a mother and three children having failed to stop his vehicle on the A34 because he was changing music on his mobile phone while driving.

"The footage in the video shows Kroker looking at his phone numerous times, but failing to slow down despite rapidly approaching the stationary traffic ahead at 50mph, causing a devastating collision.

"The result was horrific and serves as a sobering warning to all drivers that using a handheld device while driving can kill.

"The message is simple - don't use your mobile phone while driving - #ItsNotWorthTheRisk."

Phone - at the wheel

Research has shown that using a mobile phone makes our reactions 50 per cent slower.

Using a hands-free phone while driving does not significantly reduce the risks because the problems are caused mainly by the mental distraction and divided attention of taking part in a phone conversation at the same time as driving.

The facts:

  • You're four times more likely to crash if you use a mobile phone while driving.
  • Reaction times for drivers using a phone are around 50 per cent slower than normal driving.
  • Even careful drivers can be distracted by a call or text - and a split-second lapse in concentration could result in a crash.

The law:

It's illegal to ride a motorcycle or drive using handheld phones or similar devices.o The rules are the same if you're stopped at traffic lights or queuing in traffic.

It's also illegal to use a hand-held phone or similar device when supervising a learner driver or rider.If you're the driver, you can only use your phone in a vehicle if you:

  • Need to call 999 or 112 in an emergency and it's unsafe or impractical to stop.
  • Are safely parked.

Chief Constable Suzette Davenport, Chiefs' Council lead for Roads Policing, said:

"Forces are coming together this week with innovative approaches to catching those driving when distracted and campaigns to make drivers think twice about using their mobiles at the wheel.

"Tackling mobile phone use by drivers requires police enforcement using new technology and tactics to maximise the numbers of people we can stop, combined with strong, effective penalties and creative national campaigns to make driving while distracted as socially unacceptable as drink-driving.

"When you're getting in your car, remember: don't put others at risk - keep your eyes on the road and your hands on the wheel."

You can use hands-free phones, sat navs and two-way radios when you're driving or riding. But if the police think you're distracted and not in control of your vehicle you could still get stopped and penalised.

Penalties for using your phone while driving:

  • You can get an automatic fixed penalty notice if you're caught using a handheld phone while driving or riding. You'll get three penalty points on your licence and a fine of £100.
  • Your case could also go to court and you could be disqualified from driving or riding and get a maximum fine of £1,000. Drivers of buses or goods vehicles could get a maximum fine of £2,500.

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