Police target drivers using mobile phones in Suffolk and Norfolk

Operation Ringtone
Operation Ringtone
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As part of a week-long campaign focusing efforts to tackle drivers using mobile phones, officers are appealing to the public to help identify offenders.

Operation Ringtone, which runs until Sunday, sees officers patrolling the roads with marked and unmarked cars and motorcycles, all fitted with cameras to obtain evidence to help secure successful prosecutions.

In addition to this, a new reporting form on the police website means members of the public can now submit dash cam footage to support the fight against those breaking the law.

Chief Inspector Kris Barnard, head of the Norfolk and Suffolk Roads Policing Unit, said the public can play a key part in making this offence socially unacceptable.

He said: “We all witness it, momentary glances looking down at a phone or the more blatant offender seen holding and talking on their phone. The key thing to remember here is that while you’re behind the wheel you are in charge of a machine, a machine which can seriously injure and even kill people if you’re not in proper control.

“If you take your eyes off the road for just three seconds when doing 70mph you will travel further than the length of a football pitch. Ask yourself, what could happen in that time?

“We are doing everything within our power to stop offenders and hopefully prevent serious or fatal collisions. However, with the help of the public, submitting footage and supporting our investigations, we will be able to hold more lawbreakers to account.”

He added: “Our aim is to make this offence as socially unacceptable as drink-driving. Drivers might not think a momentary glance at a text message is harming anyone, but think of what’s going on around you.

“Hazards on the road, especially when driving at speed, can change so quickly and in that moment if you’re not concentrating 100 per cent you could easily cause a crash, injure or kill someone else, or become a casualty yourself. Is that text message, notification or selfie really worth it?”

Drivers using their phone now face six points on their licence and a £200 fine.

Tim Passmore, Suffolk’s Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC), said: “Time and time again we see drivers using their phones on the move so I absolutely support the Constabulary’s campaign to increase enforcement on our county’s roads.

“Using a mobile phone at the wheel is reckless and costs lives. It absolutely horrifies me when I see drivers on their phones and sadly we see it all too often.”

He added: “I really hope that the new penalties that drivers face for using their mobile phone will finally make those who continue to fault the law take note. I find it particularly shocking that drivers who rely on their licence for their livelihood have been caught using their phones – surely no call is worth losing your job or your life for.”

Norfolk’s PCC Lorne Green said: “Under our #Impact umbrella we are keen to drive home the message to young people how irresponsible it is to use a mobile phone while driving. There are however no age barriers to such an offence with few people claiming never to have seen someone texting or talking while driving.

“A momentary lapse in concentration can lead to disastrous consequences and I fully support the call for members of the public to go that extra mile by submitting dash cam footage to our officers in a bid to catch those intent on breaking the law.”

Cllr James Finch, Suffolk County Council’s cabinet member for highways and transport, and chair of the Suffolk Roadsafe Board, said: “Driving is an activity that requires our full attention – our hands need to be on the wheel and our eyes focused on the road ahead, not on a phone.

“We need to make using a mobile phone at the wheel socially unacceptable, similar to what people now think about drink driving.

“Thankfully, we now have stricter penalties for those caught using their phone at the wheel, so we need to continue with educational campaigns, plus continued enforcement to get the message out there that it is not OK to use your phone while driving.”