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One driver an hour caught using a phone

Staffordshire | News | Published:

A driver was caught using a mobile phone almost every hour across the West Midlands and Staffordshire during a single year.

There were 3,196 fines handed out by officers in the two regions in 2014 - working out at one every 90 minutes.

Chiefs say they are cracking down on the problem and also trying to educate motorists.

In the West Midlands there were 1,678 fixed penalty notices issued, compared to 1,518 in Staffordshire.

Police have recently launched operations targeting drivers using phones.

Central Motorway Police Group (CMPG) caught a total of 182 people, including 29 HGV drivers during two weeks in September and October last year.

The campaign was backed by Lisa Thomas, whose daughter Laura, of Great Haywood, was killed on the A5 in Shropshire by a lorry driver who was browsing explicit websites.

Laura Thomas

And West Midlands Police officers found 117 motorists making calls, texting or accessing the internet from mobiles while driving during a week-long operation at the end of last month.

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Officers say many were what they call FOMOs – an acronym for people with a 'Fear of Missing Out' – who were updating social media accounts on the move, plus others using navigation aids on hand-held devices.

Many were handed three points and a £100 fine with others offered the chance to avoid the licence endorsement by attending a drive improvement course.

Chief Inspector Kerry Blakeman, who leads the West Midlands Police traffic unit, said: "In the majority of cases we're finding people know it's wrong, that it's against the law, but for some reason can't resist the urge to call, text or go online while at the wheel.

"Some seem to think driving is dead time that could be spent more productively on the phone – but they may well end up dead by being distracted."

Sergeant Sion Hathaway from CMPG added: "Studies have found driver reaction times when using a phone are double what they would be normally and that the risk of a collision increases four-fold. Driving ability generally is reduced to something similar to that observed for drivers at the legal alcohol limit.

"It's about time the message started to get through and it's a simple one ? don't reach for your phone while driving. If that phone call or text message can't wait then pull over and do it safely."

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