Drivers hang up mobiles

SUFFOLK'S top traffic cop today said he believed the county was bucking new research which showed drivers are flouting mobile phone legislation.One in 10 motorists in Britain still use hand-held mobile phones while driving despite the ban which came into force in December, according to a report from a motoring organisation.

SUFFOLK'S top traffic cop today said he believed the county was bucking new research which showed drivers are flouting mobile phone legislation.

One in 10 motorists in Britain still use hand-held mobile phones while driving despite the ban which came into force in December, according to a report from a motoring organisation.

The survey of more than 700 drivers showed that 10 per cent of drivers admitted ignoring the law, risking a fixed penalty of £30 or, if the case went to court, a maximum £1,000 fine plus three points on their driving licence.

However Chief Inspector Alan Pawsey, head of Suffolk police's traffic unit said: "While there are still some people who are flouting the law, putting not only there own lives, but also the lives of others at risk, I think it is true to say the publicity surrounding the introduction of mobile phone legislation has made the majority of drivers think more carefully about the risk they are taking.

"More than half those interviewed in this survey said they park up before making a call and 60 pc said they never make a call while driving.

"As the survey was only of 700 people it is difficult to draw to many firm conclusions as to what is happening in Suffolk. Our feeling is that more people here are complying with the law. It is our aim to make Suffolk's roads safer. Those who continue to flout the law will be caught and prosecuted."

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The research by breakdown recovery firm Green Flag found that more than 75 pc of respondents agreed that using handsets behind the wheel severely impaired their ability to drive safely.

More than a quarter of respondents (28pc) said they had made a conscious effort since the ban to use a hands-free kit, which is not illegal.

Just one per cent of those questioned was unaware of the ban, and nearly one in three said their employers had made no attempt to advise staff about mobile phone use when driving for work purposes.

Nearly half said they still made mobile phone calls but made sure they parked up safely first.

Mary Williams, chief executive at road safety charity Brake, said the findings showed a "worrying' number of drivers were still putting lives at risk.

She said: "Research shows that using a mobile phone while driving makes you up to six times more likely to crash.

"Even hands-free phones pose a significant risk as it is the conversation which distracts drivers and not simply holding the phone."

N How do you believe motorists caught using mobile phones while driving should be dealt with? Write in to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or send us an e-mail to eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk or visit the forum at www.eveningstar.co.uk

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