Essex Police will be taking a tough stance against drivers who use their mobile phones behind the wheel throughout March.
Officers will be out in force across the county on the look out for people who continue to flout the law by making and receiving calls and sending text messages while driving.
Essex Police deals with this offence robustly 365 days a year but will be stepping up patrols throughout March following the success of its anti-drink drive and anti-speeding campaigns in December and January.
Drivers using mobile phones will be issued with fixed penalty notices resulting in a £60 fine and three points on their driving licence. Those who already have nine points or more and are at risk of losing their licence will be reported to court.
In 2010, Essex Police issued more than 9,133 fixed penalty notices for mobile phone offences, 940 less than the previous year.
Despite the reduction there are still too many drivers choosing to ignore the law.
Adam Pipe, Casualty Reduction Manager, said: “Using a phone while driving, even on ‘hands free’, diverts attention from the road and contributes to thousands of crashes every year.
“Using a phone affects your concentration and means you can’t give the road and other roads users the attention they deserve. Research shows you’re four times more likely to crash if you use a mobile phone while driving and your reaction times could be worse than if you were under the influence of alcohol.
“Every driver is aware that using a hand held phone is an offence yet we are still seeing drivers texting and making and receiving calls behind the wheel. Some of the worst offenders are those who drive for their business and can least afford to lose their licence. .
“This campaign is about Essex Police enforcing the law but it’s also about encouraging the public to put pressure on friends and relatives who they know
continue to use their phones while driving.”
Visitors to the Essex Police website will be able to keep up to date with the results of the campaign with an online totaliser
The totaliser at www.essex.police.uk/mobile will be regularly updated to let you know how many people have been caught using their phone while driving and issued penalty notices.
So far, since March 1, a total of 48 drivers have been issued fixed penalty notices.