The City of London Police force has painted a graphic picture in a bid to warn commuters of the dangers of using a phone while behind the wheel.
Figures from the Department for Transport show that a driver impaired or distracted by their mobile was a contributory factor in 492 accidents in Britain in 2014, including 21 that were fatal and 84 classed as serious. And in a bid to help drive down traffic collisions locally, the Square Mile’s force has put together a new campaign.
It begins: “You’re already running late for an important meeting when you jump in your car. “You intend to drive safely but then, your phone rings. It’s your manager to see where you are. You fight your better instincts and answer.
“Those few seconds where your eyes slip from the road to your phone could have fatal, life changing consequences for yourself and others. Don’t be a distracted driver.”
Studies have found that talking on a handheld mobile phone can impair driving more than doing so above the drink drive limit. And as such the City’s officers were out patrolling the streets last week as part of a concerted crackdown. The operation coincided with the second nationwide awareness raising week of the year.
The first week, held in May, resulted in the detection of 2,323 driving offences. Inspector David Aspinall, operational lead for roads policing in the City, said: “We know that the roads within the City are some of the busiest in London, so the need for drivers to stay alert and focused is so important.
“This week is just one of the ways we demonstrate how seriously we take road safety. “When it comes to phones and driving our message is clear; Just don’t use it. Those few seconds to check your phone is all the time it takes to get into a crash. It just isn’t worth it. Technology is ever present in our society and for the most part, that is a great thing; but when it comes to driving, put your phone on silent and focus on the road.”
The City of London force is one of few in the country to boast a rise in the number of fixed penalty notices issued, with a 20% increase in 2015/16. National Police Chiefs’ Council lead for roads policing, Chief Constable Suzette Davenport, said innovative approaches were required to keep on top of a problem that has taken on greater importance in modern times.
She said: “Tackling mobile phone use by drivers requires police enforcement using new technology and tactics to maximise the numbers of people we can stop, combined with strong effective penalties and creative national campaigns to make driving distracted as socially unacceptable as drink driving. “When you’re getting in your car remember; don’t put others at risk – keep your eyes on the road and your hands on the wheel.”