Steep rise in drivers using mobiles

DAREDEVIL Suffolk drivers are continuing to flout the mobile phone laws and endanger lives, it can be revealed today.With the number of motorists caught rising steeply, The Evening Star spent caught these drivers flagrantly ignoring the dangers during the morning rush hour in Ipswich.

DAREDEVIL Suffolk drivers are continuing to flout the mobile phone laws and endanger lives, it can be revealed today.

With the number of motorists caught rising steeply, The Evening Star spent caught these drivers flagrantly ignoring the dangers during the morning rush hour in Ipswich.

Astonishingly police figures show the number of people caught making calls when they are behind the wheel is rising as more as time passes since the ban was put in place.

The Star can today reveal:


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N Between July 2005 and June 2006 2,264 drivers in Suffolk were issued with fixed penalty notices for talking on phones while driving.

N The figure rose by 65 per cent from the same period the year before.

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N Driver's risk fines of up to £1,000 each time they drive while on the phone - as well as putting people's lives at risk.

N Seven drivers were caught in the space of one hour by The Star's photographers.

From December 1 2003 it became a criminal offence to use a hand-held phone when driving.

Drivers caught by police face a £30 fixed penalty, up to £1,000 on conviction in court, or £2,500 for drivers of goods vehicles, buses or coaches.

Drivers still risk prosecution, for failure to have proper control, if they use hands-free phones when driving.

The law also forbids those supervising a provisional licence holder to use their phones and yet five people were fined for this offence in Suffolk between July 2004 and June 2005 and 12 were fined a year later.

Inspector Trevor Sharman, of Suffolk Constabulary's Police Headquarters Roads Policing Unit, said: “The behaviour of a few jeopardise the safety of other road users.

“They are targeted by patrolling officers who will consistently enforce the legislation in relation to using hand held mobile phones while driving.”

Road safety charity Brake are campaigning to the government to make the penalties more expensive to act as more of a deterrent to drivers.

The charity is also campaigning to ban the use of all phones including hands-free sets.

Dianne Ferreira, of Brake, said: “I don't think people are taking the ban seriously at all.

“It doesn't surprise me that The Star caught so many people in one hour but it doesn't fail to shock me.

“You wouldn't operate a chainsaw while on the phone so why do it when you are in charge of a big hunk of dangerous metal.”

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