Drivers still ignoring mobile phones law

MOTORISTS in Haywards Heath are still using their mobile phones while driving despite recent increased efforts by police to crackdown on drivers who defy the law.

In a Middy survey of the roundabout between South Road and Sussex Road, at least four people in just 40 minutes were spotted using hand-held phones.

Seven people were seen eating and ten smoking in the same period, at lunchtime. In a similar survey taken later in the afternoon, the driver of a large oil tanker was seen munching on a sandwich, with four others also eating, two on the phone and five people smoking.

Businessmen seemed to be the main phone users while workmen appeared to be the main culprits of lunching at the wheel.

The number of penalty notices issued by UK police for using mobile phones while driving increased from 233 in 2007 to 4,743 in 2011.

Insp James Biggs, from Sussex Road Policing Unit, said: “Mobile phone usage has increased over the years from texting and calling to email and other uses of the internet. They can be a contributory factor in collisions as people are distracted.

“Sussex Police is committed to reducing deaths and injuries on the road and will continue to target those who choose to use their phones whilst driving. The penalty notice is the same for speeding – £60 and three penalty points.”

Rule 148 of the Highway Code was recently revised so that a driver who is eating, smoking, reading a map, playing loud music or tuning the radio might be judged not to be in full control of a vehicle, especially if it leads to an accident.

The law was changed in 2003 banning the use of hand-held phones while driving but people still die because drivers continue to do so.

The Sussex Safer Roads Campaign recommends:

Never use a hand-held mobile phone when you are driving. If you are driving, keep the phone switched off and use your voicemail or message service.

Stop in a safe place, not on a motorway or hard shoulder, to use the phone and pick up messages.

Do not use a hands-free phone – your mind will be distracted by the conversation and you will not be concentrating fully on your driving.

Remember that phones are not the only distraction. It can be just as dangerous to take your attention away for any reason such as changing a tape or CD. Use your common sense to know when it is most appropriate to do this.