Shocking number of drivers detected using mobiles behind the wheel by Warwickshire Police
Almost 50 drivers were caught using their mobile phones behind the wheel on the M40 and M42 this month during a week-long operation by a specialist Warwickshire Police unit.
The Commercial Vehicle Unit at Warwickshire Police took part in a national mobile phone campaign aimed at changing driver behaviours and highlighting the consequences of using a device whilst driving.
Between 8-12th February the unit detected 49 mobile phone offences, 19 of these were HGV drivers, 18 van drivers and 12 car drivers.
Sergeant Carl Stafford said “The majority of road users do not use their mobile phone whilst driving, however this operation shows the shocking number of people who continue to be distracted by their phone despite rigorous media campaigns and an increase in fines and points. This is even more dangerous when you consider that most of these drivers are travelling at motorway speeds. At 60mph you will be travelling at 27 metres per second, and a four second window to pick up, glance to open the phone, open your app and read that message means you have travelled the length of a football pitch without looking at what is in front of you which could have devastating consequences to both the driver and the other road users.
“This is why mobile phones have been identified as one of the ‘fatal 4’ factors that contribute towards death and injury on our roads alongside not wearing a seatbelt, drink and drug driving and speeding.
“We are asking drivers to please keep their full attention on the road because using a handheld or hands free mobile phone whilst driving, increases your risk of a collision by four times. To give a comparison, a driver distracted by a phone can be impaired to the same degree as a drink driver.
“Please put your phone out of reach in the glove compartment to take away the temptation and plan regular breaks at service stations and use your phone then. The car is not a mobile office to conduct your emails, check social media or do your online banking. These are all real incidents captured during Operation Tramline. We see the impact of when distracted drivers are involved in collisions, not only to the driver who can be facing a custodial sentence for causing death/serious injury by dangerous driving but to the victims and their families.”
Highways England Assistant Regional Safety Co-ordinator, Marie Biddulph, said: “The number of people we have discovered flouting the law and putting themselves and others at risk is disappointing, particularly those using a mobile phone – you are four times more likely to be in a crash if you use your phone.
“Using the supercabs we want to encourage all drivers to think twice about their behaviour behind the wheel, to put their mobile phone in the glovebox and make sure everyone gets to their destination safely.”
In Warwickshire, using a mobile phone whilst driving was a contributory factor in five serious collisions in 2019 and two serious collisions in 2020 (provisional data).
Driving whilst distracted was also identified as a contributory factor in five serious collisions and one fatal collision in 2019 and despite lockdown, eight serious collisions and one fatal collision in 2020 (provisional data). The majority of drivers were men.
Working in collaboration with Highways England and other partners, the Commercial Vehicle Unit will continue to patrol our motorways and dual carriageways to help improve road safety for everyone who lives in Warwickshire or who travels through the county.
During this latest Operation Tramline a total of 235 vehicles were stopped and 268 offences identified by officers using a Highways England owned specially adapted HGV supercab, giving them an elevated position to observe driver behaviours in all vehicles and deal with any offences.
As well as detecting 49 mobile phone offences, Traffic Offence Reports were given to seven drivers for not being in proper control of their vehicle, 60 drivers were not wearing seatbelts, and 22 drivers were stopped for speeding. Worryingly 25 drivers had insecure loads that could shift or fall onto the carriageway injuring the driver or innocent road users. Two HGVs were carrying abnormal loads without the correct movement orders and were prohibited from continuing their journey for 48hrs until rectified.
Detections weren’t limited to road traffic offences. One person was arrested on suspicion of a car key burglary. The Operation Tramline team also located a high risk missing person.
Being stopped by Warwickshire Police isn’t the only way you can get caught for using your mobile phone whilst driving. Police are asking the public to submit any dashcam or GoPro footage they have captured as evidence that could be used to prosecute someone for using a phone whilst driving to Operation Snap.