Truckers and driving instructor among those hit with tougher ‘phone-at-the-wheel’ fines

More than 250 drivers in the West Midlands were hit with new heavier fines for using mobile phones behind the wheel during a week-long clampdown.

Offenders included 30 truckers, a driving instructor, and a man accessing mobile banking while travelling on the M5 with a phone in one hand and a bank statement in the other.

All of the 261 distracted drivers caught during the 1st – 8th March campaign have been handed £200 fines and six points on their licence.

It means if they’re caught again they facing being banned from the roads through the ‘totting-up’ process.

Inspector Sion Hathaway, from the Central Motorway Police Group, said: “It’s disappointing that despite all the publicity around tougher new punishments, and the dangers of distracted driving, many people are still putting lives at risk by using phones at the wheel.

“It’s shocking so many HGV drivers were among those we caught: these are professional drivers, ones that should be setting high standards, yet we found 30 truckers phoning, texting or using the internet while driving.

“We used our unmarked police HGV cab during the operation which enabled us to look right into truckers’ cabs and catch any trying to discretely use mobile devices. They’ve been reported to the regional Traffic Commissioner, who oversees regulation of the haulage trade, and could face a suspension.

“A driving instructor was also among those fined. He was found using a mobile when his full attention should have been on his learner driver.

“Motorists should not need the risk of a £200 fine and six points to stop using phones: the possibility of causing a crash, one that could result in devastating consequences, should be deterrent enough.”

Around half of the distracted drivers were caught on the M5 and M6 with the others pulled over on urban roads in the West Midlands.

West Midlands Police & Crime Commissioner David Jamieson, who brought in the original ban on driving while on a mobile phone back in 2003, added: “These tougher penalties are welcomed by all sensible road users as driving while using a handheld mobile phone is potentially lethal.

“This is about saving lives. Studies have found that motorists who talk on their handheld phone while driving are four times more like to crash. Statistics also show that in just five years there were more than 3,000 accidents involving a driver on the phone.

“But I want it to go further: I’d like to see local groups benefit from the higher fines. It is only right the fines from reckless drivers help pay to keep our roads safe.”

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