Whilst learning to drive is an exciting step towards independence for young people in Gloucestershire, new drivers in the county are being reminded that getting caught using a phone whilst behind the wheel, could see them instantly lose their licence.
Why has this campaign been launched?
The stark reminder comes at the start of a joint campaign between Gloucestershire Constabulary, the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner, Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue Service and Gloucestershire County Council, which supports the Police and Crime Commissioner’s Safe and Social Driving priority.
The campaign, which launches on March 16 2020, follows research from the road safety charity BRAKE, suggesting that drivers are four times more likely to be involved in an accident if they use their phone in the car.
What do the stats say?
In Gloucestershire, the unlawful use of mobile phones whilst driving continues to be a problem, with the latest local figures showing that the issue is most prevalent amongst male drivers over the age of 24. In fact, 70 per cent of incidents between 2016 and 2019 were committed by male drivers of cars, vans and lorries within this age category. There were also two incidents in 2019 committed by tractor drivers.
The latest collaborative campaign acts in part as a reminder to drivers that no matter how experienced you are, using a phone whilst driving is unacceptable, and those who are caught will be dealt with robustly. It also seeks to remind new drivers not to be tempted to use apps like TikTok and Snapchat whilst driving, and that updating your story behind the wheel could lead to an ‘InstaBAN’.
Drivers caught driving whilst using their phone will receive six points and a £200 fine. As a result, those who have been driving for less than two years would lose their licence instantly and be made to retake both their practical and theory tests.
Speaking of the latest campaign, Gloucestershire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Martin Surl said: “It’s well-known that people shouldn’t use their phones whilst driving, but locally we’re still seeing people ignoring the law. Safe driving is important to everyone in our county, which is why I’m pleased to see this multi-agency collaboration in Gloucestershire, supporting my commitment to Safe and Social Driving.
“This campaign ensures our roads become safer, and raises awareness amongst drivers on the consequences of their actions, both to their own lives and the lives of other road users.”
Gloucestershire Constabulary view
Chief Inspector Alistair Barby of Gloucestershire Constabulary said: “Being distracted by a mobile phone while behind the wheel of a vehicle can have utterly devastating consequences, and our officers are all too familiar with the impact it could have.
“I urge anyone who uses a phone while at the wheel to think about how you might not only hurt yourself, but also other innocent motorists through these careless actions.
“Thankfully people using a mobile phone while driving is now seen to be unacceptable by the majority of the public, however there are still a proportion who take that unnecessary risk.”
Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue view
Cllr Dave Norman, Gloucestershire County Council cabinet member with responsibility for the fire and rescue service, said: “If motorists use their phones while driving they could be banned and face a hefty fine. They are also putting their own lives at risk and endangering the safety of other road users.
“Drivers who use their phone in the car are four times more likely to be in an accident so I’m pleased to see this joint campaign being launched to help increase safety on our county’s roads.”
- Drivers using a hands-free or handheld mobile phone are slower at recognising and reacting to hazards.
- You are four times more likely to be in a crash if you use your phone.
- Your reaction times are two times slower if you text and drive than if you drink drive, and this increases to three times if you use a handheld phone.
- Even careful drivers can be distracted by a call or text – and a split-second lapse in concentration could result in a crash. At 30 mph a car travels 100 feet in 2.3 seconds.
- It’s illegal to use a handheld mobile when driving – including using your phone to follow a map, read a text or check social media.
- It is also illegal to use a handheld phone or similar device when supervising a learner driver.
- These both apply even if you’re stopped at traffic lights or queuing in traffic.
- You can only use a handheld phone if you are safely parked, or need to call 999 or 112 in an emergency and its unsafe or impractical to stop.
- If you’re caught using a handheld phone while driving, you’ll get six penalty points on your licence and a fine of £200.
- If you get just six points in the first two years after passing your test, you will lose your licence.
- Using a hands-free device (for example, for navigation) is not illegal. However, if this distracts you and affects your ability to drive safely, you can still be prosecuted by the police.
- Points on your licence leads to higher insurance costs.
- You could lose your job.