Get the message – don’t phone and drive

Drivers who continue to break the law by using hand held mobile phones at the wheel will be targeted in a special operation this week.

Officers from Somerset County Council’s Road Safety Team and Avon and Somerset Police will be on the road in South Somerset for a day of action on Wednesday 22 October.

The crackdown aims to catch offenders and also raise awareness of the dangers associated with using devices like phones while driving. Those spotted breaking the law will be invited to attend an evening of education at a later date, and their details will be passed on to police if they do not attend.

Evidence shows that:

  • You are four times more likely to crash if you use a mobile phone while driving.
  • Reaction times for drivers using a phone are around 50 per cent slower than normal driving.
  • Even careful drivers can be distracted by a call or text – and a split-second lapse in concentration could result in a crash.
  • More than a million drivers have been convicted of using a handheld mobile phone behind the wheel since 2003 (when using one other than for making an emergency call was made illegal).
  • It is also illegal to use a phone or similar device while supervising a learner driver or rider.

Cllr David Hall, Somerset County Council’s Cabinet Member with responsibility for Road Safety Policy, said: “I’m sorry to say this seems to be a growing problem with more and more drivers using phones to talk or text while at the wheel.

“The facts are clear and our message is clear – using your phone while driving is distracting and dangerous, not just for you but potentially for other road users too.

“I hope this day of action helps to raise awareness and makes people think: Is that call or text message really worth dying for?”

Inspector Tim Coombe, Yeovil Neighbourhood Manager, said: “Targeted days of action like these with our partners in Somerset Road Safety are an important element of our work to reduce the number of collisions, in addition to our regular patrols and safety initiatives.

“People shouldn’t need reminding about the dangers to them and other people on the road if they are using electronic devices, hopefully this day of action will promote the right message to people in South Somerset.”