In the continued crackdown on the use of mobiles whilst driving, North Yorkshire Police are warning motorists that from Wednesday 1 March 2017 the penalties for the offence double.
Previously the penalty facing a driver who was guilty of the offence was £100 and three points on their licence. For first time offenders who met certain criteria, there was also the alternative option to take a driver education course.
However, this is all set to change from Wednesday 1 March 2017 when both the fine and the number of points will double to £200 and six points and for those found guilty of driving whilst using a mobile phone the option to take a course will be removed.
Newly qualified drivers need to be particularly aware, as six points added to a licence within the first two years can result in a lost licence.
The legislation is becoming tougher in a bid to further deter drivers from using their phone behind the wheel. Despite the fact that mobile phone use was a contributory factor in 22 fatal and 75 serious road accidents in 2015, and the use of phones whilst driving is reported as one of the top four public concerns for road safety in 2016, the potentially fatal behaviour still persists.
Even though recent research shows that 96% of the public agreed that using a mobile behind the wheel is unacceptable, 31% still admitted to doing it.
To mark the introduction of the new legislation, North Yorkshire Police are coordinating a number of operational resources to raise driver awareness of the changes.
Officers from the Roads Policing Group will be out in force, working alongside the fleet of safety camera vans, to both educate drivers about the changes and enforce the new legislation.
Speaking about the penalty changes, Inspector Rich Champion said: Despite the wide known fact that the use of mobiles whilst driving has been illegal for a number of years now, we still see drivers distracted by phones. In recent years there have been a number of fatal collisions in North Yorkshire involving drivers using mobiles. Families have been left mourning the loss of a loved one, all because someone deemed accepting a call or checking social media to be more important than road safety.
“The misuse of a mobile whilst behind the wheel is totally unacceptable and North Yorkshire Police will be enforcing the new legislation fully from the 1 March 2017. With the combination of roads policing officers actively targeting the offence and the image capture capabilities of the safety camera fleet plus the public’s assistance through Op Spartan, drivers who continue to flout the law and put themselves and others at risk will be targeted, identified and prosecuted.
Andy Tooke, Criminal Justice Operations Manager said: The safety camera fleet focus on all elements of road safety and contrary to popular belief, are not simply capturing speeding motorists. The vehicles are equipped with the technology to clearly capture images of drivers using mobile phones. Being distracted behind the wheel is potentially fatal and the vehicles play a vital role in identifying and prosecuting those who continue to ignore the warning and put all road users in danger.”