Police forces across the UK participated in a crackdown on illegal mobile phone use by drivers, in a series of targeted operations to prosecute offenders and drive home the risks and consequences of distracted driving.
Led by the National Police Chief’s Council (NPCC), the campaign ran 14-21 November.
The campaign comprised a combination of enforcement and education, with dedicated patrols by officers using unmarked vans, helmet cams, high-seated vehicles and high vantage points to catch offenders, and partnership working between police and paramedics to educate people of the risks.
The campaign also saw the use of variable message signs on prime commuter routes to display the message ‘Leave Your Phone Alone’, a pilot schemes with ‘community spotters’ to target repeat offenders and the use of social media videos and messages.
This was the second national week of action against drivers using mobile phones during 2016, with the first (in May) resulting in 2,323 offences detected.
Since then, the issue of illegal mobile phone usage by drivers has featured heavily in the media spotlight.
In September, the RAC claimed the illegal use of handheld mobile phones is at ‘epidemic proportions’, on the back of research which suggests 11m motorists admitted to making or receiving a call while driving in the last 12 months.
After months of speculation, the Government last week finally confirmed it is planning to double the penalties for those caught using a mobile phone while driving.
Announced on 8 November as part of a response into a consultation on the issue, the move means that those found committing the offence will be docked six points and receive a £200 fine.
Following the campaign, the NPCC will publish figures showing how many offences were detected across the country.
Chief constable Suzette Davenport, NPCC lead for roads policing, said: “Forces are coming together this week with innovative approaches to catching those driving when distracted, to make drivers think twice about using their mobiles at the wheel.
“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.”