New driving on phone legislation comes into force today

01 Mar 2017 08:00 AM

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From today (March 1) police across the country will be armed with new legislation to clampdown on drivers who use their mobile phone behind the wheel.

A change in the law means the punishment for using a phone behind the wheel has been doubled with offenders receiving an on-the-spot £200 fine and six penalty points on their licence.

If a motorist is caught twice, accruing 12 points in the process, they will automatically appear in court and face a fine of £1,000 and a driving ban of at least six months.

Motor Patrols Chief Inspector Dave Guthrie, of the Operations Department, has said road safety is a top priority for the force and he hopes the change in legislation will act as a deterrent to drivers.

He said: "This change in legislation underlines how seriously the authorities are taking driving while using your mobile phone and we are firmly supportive of the change.

"We have all seen examples in the press of the devastation that can be caused when a driver is not concentrating on the road.

"A motor vehicle in the wrong hands won't just kill one person, it could kill half a dozen in a split second. That is why it is so important for people to heed our advice.

"Young drivers in particular think they can get away with playing on their phone but all it takes is for them to not concentrate for a split second and they can be involved in a collision.

"We have one simple message for motorists - don't be that person who is responsible for claiming an innocent life for the sake of a text message."

Last November the National Police Chief's Council (NPCC) held a proactive campaign and more than 10,000 motorists were stopped across the UK.

Nearly 8,000 mobile phone offences were detected and were positively dealt with by means of fixed penalties, summonses or warnings.

Police in the North East were also proactive throughout the year and just under 500 mobile phone offences were detected in the Northumbria area in 2016 alone.

In terms of the number of accidents involving distracted drivers there were a total of 773 collisions between 2011 and 2015 with 55 people killed or seriously injured.

Anyone who wants to report a driver who is behaving in a careless or dangerous manner should contact the Op Dragoon team on 101.