Officers from Merseyside Police will be out on the roads over the next seven days supporting the first national campaign to put the brakes on people who are still using their mobile phone when they are driving.
The campaign gets underway on Saturday, 23 May and will run until the following Friday. It is the first of two planned for this year and is designed to both educate drivers about the risks of using their phones behind the wheel and warn them about the serious consequences if they are caught.
In the year to 31 March 2014, 4020 drivers in Merseyside were caught using their phones whilst driving, compared to 3608 in the previous year. Evidence from the road safety charity Brake indicates that the number of offences during 2014 nationally has also risen significantly.
Sergeant Dave Williams from the MSOC Roads Policing Department said: “More and more of us are using smartphones and for lots of people they are now a way to run their lives which they simply can’t live without. As a result, it can be hard to switch them off, but this campaign is there to highlight the fact that mobile phones and driving are still a deadly combination and there can be serious consequences if you are caught.
“How people use their phones is also changing rapidly. In 2014, the majority of drivers caught had them in their hands rather than to their ears, indicating that more people are now using them to text or update social media rather than to make calls.
“Whatever your use for them though, the potential consequences if you are behind the wheel are stark. If you are speaking to someone, texting or updating social media when you are driving, you can’t be concentrating on the road and as a result you are 4 times more likely to have a crash and your driving ability will be similar to if you are over the drink drive limit.
“If all hand held use of phones in cars was eliminated it’s estimated the number of drivers dying on our roads would be cut by more than 10 per cent and we are determined to do everything we can to reduce the number of casualties this type of behaviour causes.
Sergeant Williams added: “The campaign will be targeting people who still aren’t getting the message about using their mobile phones and driving and if people are caught they can expect to be prosecuted.
“This is all about making the roads of Merseyside as safe as they possibly can be for all road users and pedestrians and the next seven days should highlight our on-going determination to change the behaviour of the minority of selfish drivers who still think it’s acceptable to put themselves and others at risk by using their phone behind the wheel.”
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