More than 500 drivers ignore law

SUFFOLK police today warned motorists not to use mobile phones while driving after catching nearly 550 people committing the offence in just ten months.

SUFFOLK police today warned motorists not to use mobile phones while driving after catching nearly 550 people committing the offence in just ten months.

The message comes on the day van driver Alan Millbanke is due to be sentenced at Newcastle Crown Court for killing 68-year-old Derek Davies while speaking on his phone.

The 32-year-old, of Wallsend, North Tyneside, has been warned to expect a jail term after admitting causing death by dangerous driving when he crashed into a pick-up truck.

It is thought to be the first case of its kind in the country.

Chief inspector Alan Pawsey, of Suffolk police, warned drivers flouting the law in Suffolk face the same consequences if they are involved in a serious accident.

He said: "These figures show a significant number of people in the county are breaking the law and that's a concern.

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"If someone had a serious accident while using a mobile phone we'd certainly be seeking to lay a more serious charge of causing death by dangerous driving."

Since the new legislation was launched in December, 531 people have been caught driving while using a mobile phone.

Another two have been charged with using a phone while supervising a learner driver.

Each has received a £30 fine, which has brought in nearly £16,000 into the Home Office coffers.

Chief Insp Pawsey said: "There's a lot of people out there who don't seem to think the laws apply to them.

"We didn't anticipate catching anyone, but now we're a few months down the road I think there's some people who've conveniently forgotten.

"At speed it's very dangerous to use a hand-held phone while driving. At slower speed it's still dangerous because you could cause an accident or hit a pedestrian."

He added police officers are always on the look-out for people flouting the law as part of their routine duties, although there had been no specific operations to catch drivers in the act.

Although the law prohibits people from using a hand-held mobile phone while driving, hands-free kits can be used.

Should drivers be allowed to drive while using a mobile phone? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

Opinion – see page 6.

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