by hollie-rae merrick
Monday, February 4, 2013
POLICE have issued a stark warning to motorists after new figures revealed that more than 13,000 drivers have been caught using their mobile phones behind the wheel in six years.
The statistics reveal that since 2007, 13,532 motorists have been fined after being caught on their phones while driving.
Of the motorists fined for the dangerous offence, 7,262 drivers opted to pay a £60 fine and take three points on their licence. A further 890 offenders failed to pay their fine within the 28-day period granted, resulting in them being fined £90.
In total, fines for using a mobile while driving amount to more than £500,000 over the six-year period. The data shows that in 2012 alone, 2,600 fines were issued for the offence – a 30% rise on the previous year.
Sergeant Paul Ward, of Suffolk police’s casualty reduction team, said his team were targeting motorists who use their phones while driving as part of an ongoing safety initiative.
“It is very concerning what people do behind the wheel,” he said. “We have caught people speaking on their phones and recently even caught a man typing a message on a palm-held device while driving.
“Reaction times go down by 50% when drivers are on their phones and that is dangerous.
“My message to people has to be that doing this is an awful offence because it is so dangerous. Not only are people putting their own lives at risk but they are also risking the lives of others.”
The statistics also show more than 5,000 motorists who did not pay their fines would have either of been summoned to court or opted to complete an awareness court.
Sgt Ward said using a mobile while driving was one of the “fatal four”, which also includes speeding, drink driving and not wearing a seatbelt.