Driving instructor among hundreds caught in phone crackdown

Driving instructor among hundreds caught in phone crackdown
Yet more “shocking” evidence of motorists flouting the law on mobile phone use has been unveiled by police – in spite of stricter punishments.

West Midlands Police carried out an operation at the start of March, days after penalty points and fines were doubled to £200 and six points for being caught using a hand-held device behind the wheel.

In perhaps the most worrying of 261 incidents identified by the force, a driving instructor was stopped for using a phone while supervising a pupil.

READ MORE: Dozens of motorists caught using phones under new penalties

In another damning case, a driver was pulled over for doing his online banking while on the M5 near Birmingham.

Police were also extremely “disappointed” to have singled out 30 truck drivers for using their phones while supposedly in control of their vehicles, both for texting and web surfing.

Of all drivers caught in the clampdown, half were using motorways. West Midlands Police admitted it was discouraging that despite high-profile media campaigns around the introduction of harsher penalties, so many motorists persist to put lives at risk.

The RAC is encouraging motorists to make an online promise to never use a handheld phone at the wheel.

Drivers can share their pledge on social media, and help spread the message that using a handheld phone while driving is simply “unacceptable.”

RAC Road safety spokesman Pete Williams said: “Tougher penalties, combined with targeted police enforcement, are both crucial in helping change motorists' behaviour when it comes to illegal mobile phone use.

“But at the same time, all of us have a responsibility when we sit in the driver's seat to keep us, our passengers and other road users safe.”

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Inspector Sion Hathaway said: “We used our unmarked police HGV cab during the operation which enabled us to look right into truckers' cabs and catch any trying to discreetly 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.”

Police and crime commissioner for the West Midlands, David Jamieson, pointed out he would like to see the fines collected from the tougher penalties pumped back into road safety.

Copyright Press Association 2017. Motoring News articles do not reflect the RAC's views unless clearly stated.