FOLLOWING reports that there were 39 road traffic accidents in 2011 caused by drivers being distracted while behind the wheel, police and the Department of Infrastructure’s Road Safety Team have launched a campaign to deter the use of hand-held mobile phones whilst driving.
The ‘Save up to £1000’ campaign – referring to the maximum fine for the offence – will appear on notice boards and in radio adverts, and aims to make drivers aware of exactly where the law stands on the matter. It is illegal to use a hand-held phone, whether talking or texting, at any time while driving, including in stationary traffic such as queuing at traffic lights. Police add that the most commonly used excuse of ‘I only answered it to say I was driving’ is still breaking the law, and added that in most cases if a call is important the caller will leave a message or call back.
Road safety manager Gordon Edwards said: ‘If you cannot divert your calls to voicemail whilst driving, make sure that your blue tooth hands-free device has been enabled.’
He added: ‘Some of the newest cars have blue tooth hands-free built into them, or kits can be bought as an accessory from around £30, which is a £970 saving on the maximum fine.’
Inspector Terry Stephen, of the roads policing unit, said: ‘Motorists who use mobile phones whilst driving risk causing or being involved in a collision and we are running an operation to highlight the risks and also report offenders. Don’t risk causing an accident or being prosecuted. Make sure you are “hands free” or stop in a safe position if you absolutely have to answer a call.’