Cheshire Police will be out in force during the winter months to deliver road safety advice and to target motorists who are taking risks by using their mobile phone whilst driving.
The targeted enforcement campaign − which runs until the end of January - will involve the use of patrols to reinforce the message to drivers and the local community about driving whilst using a mobile phone in a bid to drive down the number of persons killed or seriously injured on the roads of Cheshire East, Cheshire West, Halton and Warrington as a result of someone having used a mobile phone.
Cheshire Police state that you are four times more likely to crash if you use a mobile phone whilst driving. Drivers are at risk whether they use the phone hands free or hand held as they are much less aware of what’s happening on the road, fail to see road signs, react more slowly and can take longer to brake.
Tweeting and driving is a new risk. According to a recent survey of 1,000 motorists, it showed that while 92% knew it was illegal to use a hand held mobile whilst driving, as many as 45% sent text messages and made calls whilst at the wheel. 37% said they found it impossible to ignore mobile alerts whilst driving and 19% have rummaged through a handbag or pocket to try and find their phone whilst at the wheel. Motorists are being increasingly distracted − messages being posted on Twitter are a cause for concern for the safety of other motorists and pedestrians. As many as 9% of motorists are using mobile internet services while driving.
Many of the incidents which Cheshire Police deal with involve the use of mobile phones. Last year, a vehicle was driving in the direction of Congleton Town with a vehicle following closely behind. The car in front slowed as it approached a temporary set of traffic lights, but the driver behind was slow to respond and drove straight into the back of the car in front. The driver admitted that they had been on their mobile phone and failed to stop in time.
In November of this year, a driver was given three points on his licence and fined £120 for using his mobile phone whilst behind the wheel. The driver from Macclesfield was spotted by a police officer talking on his phone whilst in a queue of stationary traffic waiting to get petrol in Congleton back in March of this year. He pleaded guilty to the offence last month and was also ordered to pay £200 court costs and a £15 victim surcharge.
A third of motorists still use a hand held phone while driving, despite more than a million convictions for the offence over the past decade, figures reveal today.
A Cheshire Police Road Traffic Officer states that "Our advice to motorists is to remove the temptation by switching off all mobile phones, so that you can focus on the road ahead."
In a study carried out by a professor, the reaction times of drivers in a driving simulator demonstrated how being distracted by a mobile phone whilst behind the wheel showed much slower reaction times than if the driver had been drinking alcohol. The evidence showed that even a slight increase in reaction time will result in a driver travelling closer to the hazard by some distance before a driver reacts.
To read more about the winter drink driving campaign, please go to www.cheshire.police.uk.