11:11AM, Wednesday 01 March 2017
As new laws come into place today against drivers caught using handheld devices behind the wheel, Thames Valley Police will take part in a national week of enforcement action as part of the clampdown.
Under new legislation, those caught using devices such as mobile phones will receive six points on their licence and a £200 fine. The punishment was previously three points and a fine of £100.
Any offender under the age of 21 who has held a licence for two years or less will automatically lose their licence.
A week-long police campaign beginning on Wednesday, March 8, will mean an awareness course will not be offered as an alternative to a fixed penalty notice.
Between January 1, 2014, and September 30, 2016, there were 145 collisions in the Thames Valley area where mobile phones may have been a contributing factor. As a result, 11 people lost their lives and 195 were injured.
Superintendent Simon Dodds said: “There is never an excuse for someone to be using their mobile phone while driving and this change in legislation sends a clear message that it will not be tolerated.
“To coincide with this change, we will no longer routinely offer the driver awareness courses as an alternative to points and a fine.
“The increased penalties better reflect the seriousness of such driver behaviour, and the consequences it can have.
“All too often, my officers are faced with the devastation caused by motorists who persist on ignoring the dangers and drive while using their handheld phone.
“Lives are tragically lost and families are destroyed by the irresponsible decision to take a call on a handheld device, send a text, or search for music while driving.
“The safest way is to put down your phone, switch it to silent and place it out of sight to ensure that you will not be tempted to pick it up.”
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