5th Dec, 2016

Rolling cigarettes, reading directions and texting: Police clampdown on distracted drivers

Coventry Editorial 2nd May, 2016 Updated: 28th Oct, 2016

POLICE clamping down on distracted drivers have caught more than 130 motorists using their mobile phones or not wearing seatbelts while driving on the region’s motorways.

Officers from Central Motorway Police Group (CMPG) used an unmarked HGV cab to help spot drivers committing traffic offences and risking accidents in the West Midlands region.

The three-week operation to tackle bad driving behaviour saw 274 vehicles stopped on the M5, M6 and M42 – of which 207 were HGVs – by motorway police.

There were a total of 310 offences reported – including 133 for using a mobile phone and 138 for not wearing a seatbelt.

Other reasons for being stopped were driving without due care and attention or not being in proper control of a vehicle after officers witnessed some drivers rolling-up cigarettes and reading directions at the wheel.

Punishments for those caught included warnings, penalty notices or attending an awareness course.

Inspector Simon Kirman, from CMPG, said: “We saw some drivers recklessly jeopardising their own safety and potentially putting other road users at risk.

“It only takes a momentary distraction to cause an accident which, at high speed, can be catastrophic.

“It is not acceptable even during slower moving or queuing traffic to check a mobile phone for messages, text messaging or looking at social media.

“A lot of drivers acknowledged their behaviour was wrong when stopped and the operation was about enforcement but also education.

“Hopefully this will serve as a stark reminder of the dangers of not fully concentrating on the road.”

Through their campaigns, CMPG is targeting the ‘fatal four’ – speeding, drink and drug driving, mobile phones and distraction offences – which are they greatest contributors to fatalities on UK roads.

The reaction times of drivers when using a mobile phone are 30 per cent slower than someone who is just above the drink drive limit and 50 per cent slower than under normal driving conditions.

Research also shows drivers using mobile phones are four times more likely to be involved in a crash involving damage to property or serious injury.

During a similar operation across 10 days last autumn 114 vehicles were stopped, of which 74 were HGVs, and 121 offences were reported.