‘A call or a text is not worth losing your life for’
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Motorists are being given a stark warning not to put their lives at risk by using a mobile phone while driving – as officers look to reduce the number of people becoming distracted while behind the wheel.
Staffordshire Police’s Road Policing Unit is this month putting the focus on drivers using phones while behind the wheel through initiatives which will see officers utilising different tactics to target offending motorists.
The crackdown comes as the force has given its backing to a national campaign aimed at highlighting the dangers of using a phone while driving – with both officers and doctors in Staffordshire laying bare the grim consequences.
During the operation the force is urging motorists to be #PhoneFree as road policing officers will not only head out in patrol cars but utilise a HGV along with the force’s fleet of motorbikes during different enforcement initiatives.
Anyone caught using a mobile phone while driving will receive six points and a £200 fine – with those drivers who are still within the first two years of holding a full licence facing the reality of having it taken away.
Inspector Mark Joynson, of the force’s Road Policing Unit, said: “Those who choose to use a mobile phone while driving are putting the lives of the themselves and other road users at risk. It only takes being distracted by a device for a second to stop someone reacting to a hazard. It is then just a matter of seconds before a collision happens.
“Being distracted by a phone makes a driver four times more likely to crash – is it really worth taking the risk for? During this month our officers will be taking part in specific operations to target those who still feel it is worth the risk and persist in using their phones while behind the wheel.
Pictured: Inspector Mark Joynson
“Safety is far more important than taking a call or replying to a text – whoever is the planned recipient or the person ringing would much rather you get to your destination safely than not at all.”
As part of the force’s #PhoneFree initiative, drivers are being reminded it isn’t always a text or call which can be distracting but checking social media notifications or skipping songs.
PC Dave Cruxton, who is coordinating this month's operation, said: “It is still disappointing to find people using their phones while out on Staffordshire’s roads. It isn’t just sending texts or making calls, you will find drivers streaming videos on their devices all while they should be concentrating on what is infront of them.
Pictured: PC Dave Cruxton
“When we talk about consequences it isn’t just having points on your licence but it can be suffering serious and even fatal injuries. If people know they are tempted to use their phone while driving, then why not put it in the glove compartment? A call and a text is not worth losing your life for.
“I have noticed that when we stop a motorist they will give an excuse as to why they were using their mobile device whether it was getting directions, changing a music track, or altering some settings on it. Ultimately they are taking their concentration away from the road.”
Dr Richard Fawcett, a Consultant in Emergency Medicine at Royal Stoke University Hospital, has urged motorists not to risk putting themselves in a situation where they need his help – and says a moment of distraction with a phone can change people’s lives forever.
Dr Fawcett, who has attended a number of road traffic collisions through his work with the air ambulance, said: “I’ve seen far too many lives lost and families broken as a result of road traffic accidents.
“Texting whilst driving drastically increases the chances of a motorist being in an accident and the last thing you want to see on your way home after a long day is myself or one of my colleagues coming to your rescue as you fight for your life all because in that crucial moment they were too distracted by their phone. These moments can change lives forever.”
When a serious crash has occurred it’s the job of the Staffordshire and West Midlands Serious Collision Investigation Unit to work out how the incident unfolded.
Sergeant Rich Moors, of the unit, has backed the campaign to stop drivers using phones while driving – having witnessed the devastation caused by collisions. He said: “I have seen the consequences of vehicles involved in serious collisions and I welcome any work which looks to reduce the chances of crashes occurring on Staffordshire’s roads.
“Using a phone, speeding, not wearing a seat belt, or driving while under the influence of drink or drugs are behind a number of fatal collisions where you will sometimes see completely innocent people caught up – and possibly losing their lives.
“Having seen a number of serious collisions and the result it has on people’s lives, I would urge drivers to put their phones away while behind the wheel and not add to our statistics.”