This week Staffordshire Police have launched a #PhoneFree campaign.
The campaign, which highlights the fact that being distracted by your mobile phone while driving makes you four times as likely to crash, runs from Monday 9 March to Sunday 29 March.
In the last five years Staffordshire Police have recorded 6,665 offences of driving whilst using a mobile phone, that’s an average of 111 per month. Using a mobile phone while driving has been illegal since 2003. Legislation introduced in March 2017 means drivers caught using their phones at the wheel now receive six points and a £200 fine, and new drivers (within the first two years of holding a full licence) will have their licence removed by the courts.
Officers from around the force, along with the Road Policing Team, will carry out roadside stops of vehicles. They will be trialling travelling on buses to observe people, alerting colleagues who will then pull the offending driver over. Colleagues from Central Motorway Police Group (CMPG) are also supporting the campaign by using their dedicated HGV to spot people using mobile phones while driving on the motorway. While the emphasis will be on education and highlighting the dangers of driving while using a mobile phone, drivers caught in the act will be prosecuted.
The activity supports the National Police Chiefs Council’s (NPCC) overarching campaign.
Inspector Andy Bulman, Staffordshire Police Road Policing Team, said: “Using a mobile phone at the wheel in any way puts you and others at much higher risk as it only takes a second of lapsed concentration to prevent you from reacting to a hazard. Over 100 people a month are taking that risk in Staffordshire, which is shocking.
“Worryingly we’ve seen a move away from people using mobiles to make calls to people now using them to check their social media or use other interactive apps.
“This campaign aims to make people think twice before they take that risk. Using a combination of focused patrols on the roads of Staffordshire to target those who flout the law, along with simple yet thought provoking social media graphics and bus adverts which we hope will make an impact on drivers when they’re out and about.
“The message is simple. Help us make Staffordshire’s roads safer by going #PhoneFree.”
This campaign supports our on-going work under Operation Lightning, which aims to reduce the number of deaths and serious injuries on the roads of Staffordshire and to disrupt and deter criminals from using the road network.