Lancashire Police crackdown on mobile phone use behind the wheel

Lancashire Police crackdown on mobile phone use behind the wheel
Lancashire Police crackdown on mobile phone use behind the wheel
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Police in Lancashire are taking part in a week-long crackdown on illegal mobile phone use behind the wheel.

The campaign starts today and police have already handed out several fines across Lancashire.

Drivers caught using their phones in Lancashire can expect to receive a fine of £100 and 3 penalty points.

The crackdown will include patrols using unmarked vans, high vantage points and helmet cameras, as well as community "spotters" to highlight hotspots and repeat offenders to police.

A similar campaign in November, resulted in more than 40 drivers being caught every hour nationally.

Officers handed out 7,966 fixed penalty notices nationally for the offence in the week-long campaign.

The tally - equivalent to a rate of more than 1,000 every day, and 47 an hour across the country - is the highest yet for a week of enforcement on "distraction driving".

By comparison, the totals for three previous initiatives were 2,690 in May 2015, 2,276 in September 2015 and 2,323 in May last year.

The National Police Chiefs' Council (NPCC) released the figures ahead of a fresh clampdown starting today, 23 January.

Thirty-six forces across England, Wales and Northern Ireland took part in the November campaign, stopping 10,012 vehicles.

As well as detecting nearly 8,000 mobile phone offences, police delivered hundreds of verbal warnings while 68 court summonses were issued. Officers also identified 117 other "distraction" offences.

It is illegal to use a handheld phone while driving, with those falling foul of the rules facing penalty points and a fine.

Calls for efforts to curb the practice intensified last year in the wake of high-profile cases and research indicating that it is widespread.

Suzette Davenport, NPCC lead for roads policing, said: "This week, forces will be working to make driving distracted as socially unacceptable as drink-driving through enforcing strong deterrents and powerful messages to make people think twice about their driving habits.

"Encouraging results from last year's campaign against mobile phone use show how effective new tactics and innovative approaches can be.

"Officers will continue to use intelligence-led tactics to target police activity and resources and catch repeat offenders.

"Forces will be working throughout the year to tackle this behaviour by motorists with national partners and the public.

"Remember: when at the wheel, your calls or texts can wait. Keep your eyes on the road."

Under plans announced last year, the Department of Transport is set to introduce legislation doubling the punishment for using a handheld mobile phone while driving - with the fine rising from £100 to £200 and penalty points increasing from three to six.

Ministers have also set out proposals that will see motorists who cause death while on a mobile phone face tougher sentences.