Police mobile purge: 13 face court

Police have cracked down on motorists using mobile phones

Police have cracked down on motorists using mobile phones

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A police crackdown on drivers using mobile telephones revealed one motorist using two telephones at once behind the wheel.

Police sergeant Allan Thompson said the man in question was spotted by the police patrol driving and texting on one telephone while speaking on the other.

‘I’m content that the campaign was worthwhile,’ he said.

A total of 13 motorists are facing action after being caught using their telephones while driving.

The initiative, which was launched last month by the police with the government, saw police patrolling the island’s major roads, stopping and questioning anyone seen holding a telephone while they were driving.

Chris Roughly, chairman of the island’s Institute of Advanced Motorists, said he commended the efforts the police were making but was surprised more drivers had not been apprehended.

‘I think they do a reasonable job with the resources they have available, but I only have to ride from my house in Ballaugh to Douglas and I see plenty,’ he said. ‘You can see clearly into the car when you are on a bike. I am surprised it was only 13.

‘I also think the judiciary is a bit too soft on the offence.

‘We have had a maximum fine of £2,500 for ages but I can’t remember a single instance where it has been applied. It’s a subject close to my heart because I actually had a friend who was killed by a driver using a mobile telephone in the UK.’

Although it is not an offence to use a hands-free mobile telephone while driving, Mr Roughly said he still did not recommend it

He said: ‘I’m not a big fan of hands-free and in fact the company I work for bans its employees from using a telephone of any kind while driving – it’s a disciplinary matter, because it is still distracting even though it is legal.’

He added most modern vehicles contained enough distractions already with stereos, satellite navigation systems and other gadgets.

‘People really need to be concentrating on their driving. In a town centre, for example, there are pedestrians, people running across the road. cars pulling into and out of parking spaces, changing lanes. Even with a hands-free kit people have to exercise common sense and use it on a clear straight road with good visibility.’

Last year the police introduced a van-mounted camera as part of their purge on mobile telephone use by drivers. The surveillance camera fitted to the roof gives a clearer view inside other vehicles allowing police to tell if a driver is speaking or texting on a telephone.

Motorists who use a mobile telephone while driving can receive a maximum fine of £2,500 as well as four penalty points on their driving licence.

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