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Police are urging motorists to think twice about using their mobile phone while driving as part of a national road safety campaign.
The National Police Chiefs' Council campaign, which runs until 12 March, aims to raise awareness of the dangers and consequence of mobile phone use while helping to reduce the number of people who are killed or seriously injured as a result.
The use of a mobile phone whilst driving falls within the "Fatal Four" causes of road deaths and injury along with inappropriate speed, not wearing a seat belt and drink/drug driving.
Motorists may not be aware that new laws around using handheld mobile phones at the wheel came into effect in March of last year (2022).
This means it is now illegal to use a handheld mobile phone whilst driving for virtually any use, this includes things such as looking through Spotify playlists, taking photos or playing games. A device can be used hands free if secured in a cradle, allowing satnav use.
Over the coming weeks officers from the Roads Policing Unit will be out across the county carrying out extra patrols and clamping down on any drivers putting others at risk by breaking the law.
The consequences of being caught on your phone include a £200 fine and six points on your licence. If you are taken to court you could face a £1,000 fine (£2,500 if you’re driving a lorry or bus) and a ban from driving.
New drivers and those who passed their driving test under two years ago face having their licence revoked if caught using their phone behind the wheel just once.
Sergeant Mark Feltham from the Roads Policing Unit said: "Motorists continue to be four times more likely to be involved in a crash if they are using their phone whilst driving.
"Using a mobile phone whilst driving is not only completely unacceptable and reckless but puts lives at risk. Concentrating on the road is far more important when it comes to keeping you and other road users safe.
"Officers will continue to do all they can to make the roads of Gloucestershire safe alongside colleagues from the Road Safety Partnership."
Police and Crime Commissioner Chris Nelson said, "As I was driving into work, I saw someone holding his phone above the dashboard who appeared to be sending a text while he was driving in the outside lane of a busy dual carriageway. It must have been obscuring his eye line!
“Not only is this madness and against the law, it’s putting other road users at risk.
“People must behave more responsibly and put their phones in the boot or glove box if they can’t resist the temptation."
Cllr Dave Norman, Cabinet member responsible for road safety at Gloucestershire County Council and Chair of the Gloucestershire Road Safety Partnership, said: “Using a phone at the wheel is highly dangerous and can result in death or life changing injuries.
“The safety of our residents is a priority for us and we are committed to making our roads safer for all users. The message is very simple, don’t use your phone when you are driving.”
To find out more about the penalties of using your phone whilst driving please visit: https://www.gov.uk/using-mobile-phones-when-driving-the-law
Anyone who has concerns over someone who may be using their mobile phone whilst driving can report this to police by completing the following form or calling 999 if the incident is ongoing: https://www.gloucestershire.police.uk/tua/tell-us-about/soh/seen-or-heard/