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Avon and Somerset Police Crack Down on Mobile Phone Use at the Wheel: 81 offences detected as part of Operation Telecom  

Driver distraction significantly raises the likelihood of being involved in a fatal or serious injury collision (stock image)

Avon and Somerset Roads Policing officers have concluded a successful two-week operation targeting mobile phone use while driving, resulting in the detection of 81 offences.

Op Telecom, which ran between 26 February and 10 March, was part of an annual national roads policing operation aimed at raising awareness of the dangers of distracted driving.​

While use of a mobile phone at the wheel is illegal, any driver distraction – including use of a handsfree device – significantly raises the likelihood of being involved in a fatal or serious injury collision. ​​

Chief Inspector Robert Cheeseman, Head of Roads Policing, said:

“A driver using a handheld mobile phone or handsfree mobile phone is four times more likely to be involved in a collision than an undistracted driver. Within Avon and Somerset, 33% of collisions in 2023 involved a driver that was distracted.”​

Various methods of detection were used during Op Telecom. In addition to highly visible patrols, the team used unmarked vehicles, officers stationed at local ‘hotspots’ and officers in plain clothes. ​

On Tuesday 5 March, officers attending an eight-vehicle collision on the M4 went on to witness numerous incidents of drivers passing the scene using a handheld device. ​

In total, 81 drivers were caught during the two-week operation, a significantly higher number than the same period last year, when 49 offences were recorded. ​

Meanwhile, in addition to mobile phone offences, officers recorded a further 32 traffic offences including failure to wear a seatbelt and driving at excess speed.​

Ch. Insp. Cheeseman stressed that poor driver behaviour is directly linked to fatal and serious injury collisions, saying this urgently needs to be addressed. “Every life lost on our roads has a profound impact and the statistics we are currently seeing are simply unacceptable,” he said.​

“In 2023, Avon and Somerset Police attended and investigated 54 fatal road traffic collisions, resulting in the tragic loss of 63 lives. Already in 2024, 11 lives have been lost in fatal collisions. ​

“The majority of these can be attributed to one or more of the Fatal Five: drink and drug driving, excess speed, use of a mobile phone at the wheel, failure to wear a seatbelt, and careless driving. ​

“There is an urgent need to address careless and dangerous driving behaviours.”​

Road users who commit one of the Fatal Five offences are significantly more likely to be involved in a fatal collision than those who do not.​

Avon and Somerset Road Safety Unit has recently launched a new driver training initiative called Raise Your Drive, which is specifically aimed at educating younger drivers about the Fatal Five.​

Ch. Insp. Cheeseman reinforced: “We can all play our part in shaping attitudes towards road safety and reducing reliance on mobile phones while driving.​

“Avon and Somerset Police remain committed to promoting road safety and will continue to conduct operations targeting dangerous driving behaviours to ensure the safety of all road users.”​

For further information about upcoming Raise Your Drive courses, email: roadsafety@avonandsomerset.police.uk