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14 November, 2016

Crack down on drivers using mobile phones

North Yorkshire Police launch ‘flash ops’ to crack down on drivers using mobile phones behind the wheel

As part of Operation Spartan – North Yorkshire Police’s road safety operation to reduce the number of people killed or seriously injured on the region’s roads – this week will see the start of flash operations by the Roads Policing Team to crack down on drivers committing offences by using mobile phones whilst driving.

In support of a National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) enforcement campaign, from 6am Monday 14 November through to midnight Sunday 20 November 2016, the Roads Policing Group will be running ‘flash ops’ in key locations across the county, targeting distracted drivers. Traffic officers will also be supported by the safety camera vans which are also equipped to capture clear images of drivers who are using handsets illegally.

Recent research conducted by the RAC shows that drivers are increasingly ignoring safety advice and are using phones to take calls, text and take video or pictures whilst they are behind the wheel. 31% of drivers polled admitted to using their phone to make or receive a call whilst driving, whilst 14% admitted to taking videos or pictures whilst behind the wheel (http://www.rac.co.uk/pdfs/report-on-motoring/rac-report-on-motoring-2016.pdf)

The Department for Transport recently issued figures which show that an impaired driver who had been distracted by their phone was a contributory factor in 492 accidents on British roads in 2014. 21 of these accidents were fatal and 84 classed as serious.

The government has recently indicated that fines and penalties for drivers found to be using handheld devices will become much tougher to reflect the serious nature of the offence, with new legislation due in early 2017.

The week of action and targeting of the offence shows North Yorkshire Police’s commitment to tackling the issue and highlighting the dangers to drivers.

Police and Crime Commissioner for North Yorkshire Julia Mulligan said, “Driving with a mobile phone is completely unacceptable, and more to the point, irresponsible.  Being distracted at the wheel is one of the fatal four, and using a mobile phone makes you four times more likely to have an accident, and potentially cause you and other serious injury.

“The North Yorkshire public at large have told me road safety is a priority, and that is why I have invested in additional safety camera vehicles for North Yorkshire which are equipped to catch people using their mobile phones, as well as people driving too fast or not wearing a seatbelt.

“Being distracted at the wheel is extremely dangerous, and I wholeheartedly support any campaign which cracks down on such irresponsible driving.”

Speaking about Op Spartan, Inspector Dave Barf of the Roads Policing Group said “Despite the dangers of using a mobile whilst driving being widely known and tragic and entirely preventable accidents being reported all the time our local and national press – we consistently see people using their phone behind the wheel. In 2015 in North Yorkshire alone the numbers of drivers reported for mobile phone usage increased by a third in comparison to the previous year*”

“I’m sure these drivers think an accident won’t happen to them but sadly my experience as a traffic officer tells me this is not the case. If your attention is taken away even momentarily from the road, this can have serious and catastrophic effects.”

“North Yorkshire Police will not tolerate irresponsible drivers putting others lives at risk and myself and my colleagues will be out in force, targeting drivers who ignore the warnings and continue to drive without due care and attention.”