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We’re joining nationwide crackdown on people who use mobile phones while driving

A police officer leaning in to talk to someone through a car window

We’re carrying out a mobile phone enforcement operation led by the National Police Chief’s Council (NPCC) over the next three weeks, joining police colleagues from across the country to target drivers who are being distracted by mobile phones or other devices while driving.

Since the beginning of 2021, there have been more than 4,500 fatal or injury collisions on Avon and Somerset roads. A quarter of these had distraction, mobile phone use or driver failed to look properly listed as a contributing factor.

Drivers who use a mobile phone, whether handheld or hands free, are at four times greater risk of crashing. We class this as one of the ‘fatal five’ behaviours that we’re dedicated to tackling all year round.

From 27th February to 12th March, our officers will be carrying out high profile intelligence and data led enforcement across the region to reassure the public and help to influence driver decisions around using a mobile behind the wheel. The RAC 2020 Report on Motoring states that a third of Britain’s 40 million drivers feel mobile phone use is one of their top concerns.

We’re using this operation to highlight changes to the laws around mobile phones, raising awareness that it is now illegal to hold and use a mobile phone, sat nav, tablet or any device that can send or receive data, while driving a motor vehicle or riding a motorcycle. This includes unlocking the screen, checking the time, texting, making, or rejecting calls, taking photos or videos, browsing the web and drafting or reading text message, all of which are easily proven.

The law still applies if you are:

  • stopped at traffic lights
  • queuing in traffic
  • supervising a learner driver
  • driving a car fitted with stop/start technology that switches the engine off when you come to a stop
  • holding and using a device that’s offline or in flight mode

Penalties for using phones in these ways range from six points and a £200 fine to being disqualified from driving and facing court, where a fine of £1,000 can be imposed (£2,500 if driving a lorry or bus).

The situations in which a device can be used are:

  • to call 999 or 112 in an emergency and it’s unsafe or impractical to stop
  • you’re safely parked
  • you’re making a contactless payment in a vehicle that’s not moving (e.g., at a drive through restaurant)
  • you’re using the device to park your vehicle remotely

We’re also encouraging people to share video evidence (dashcam, cyclecam, helmetcam and others) of drivers using their phone at www.avonandsomerset.police.uk/roads to help us prosecute offenders.

Inspector John Shaddick of the Tactical Support Team said:

“The majority of people agree that driving while distracted is dangerous and completely unacceptable behaviour.  In the last 12 months, we’ve received 713 videos of drivers using their mobile phones from drivers with dash cams.  We’ve taken police action in 607 of those cases, and are grateful to members of the public who are working with us to keep our roads safer.

“To those tempted to use their phones whilst driving, we say put it somewhere you can’t see, hear, or reach it and allow yourself a break to park up and check it if you need to.  There is no excuse for putting yourself and others in danger by driving distracted.

“Based on figures published by the government in 2021, we can expect 100 people to lose their lives on UK roads during the three weeks of this operation.  It’s a shocking statistic and the reason why we are committed to taking dangerous drivers off the roads around the clock, every day of the year.”