NPCC: MOBILE PHONES – FEBRUARY/ MARCH 2024

Posted on Tuesday 12th March 2024 in All Road Users, Drivers, Education and Training

Sussex Safer Roads Partnership (SSRP) supported the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) mobile phone campaign, targeting motorists who use their handheld device at the wheel; through education.  It is a significant contributory factor to many serious and fatal road traffic collisions in Sussex. Not only is it extremely dangerous, it’s also illegal and carries a minimum fine of £200 and six points. The campaign ran between 26th February till 10th March. With the focus being distracted driving, this allowed SSRP to disseminate other relevant information relating to the ‘Fatal 5’.

This campaign aimed to influence the behaviour of drivers and highlight the consequences of using a mobile phone whilst driving. This does not only refer to those making calls, but also those who may be check texts and emails or changing playlist. Any distraction in a vehicle will incase your chance in being involved in a collisions. All road users should consider not dividing their attention between their mobile phone and driving – IT CAN WAIT!

Drivers who use their handheld device at the wheel are four times more likely to be in a crash. As a result, it has been illegal to do so since December 2003. Despite over 20 years of enforcement, drivers continue to put themselves and other road users at risk.

Between Monday 26th of February and Friday 1st March officers from Surrey’s Vanguard Road Safety Team worked collaboratively with Surrey and Sussex’s Roads Policing Unit, Commercial Vehicle Unit and Road Safety Partnerships (Sussex Safer Roads Partnership and Surrey Road Safe) to carry out a special operation targeting distracted drivers across the  A3, M25, A23 and M23. Since 2015, National Highways has been collaborating with the Police at a national level to target dangerously driven commercial vehicles, other high sided vehicles, and private cars to improve compliance and to reduce the number of incidents caused by unsafe driver behaviour.

Officers were using one of the HGV ‘supercabs,’ which was loaned to the force by National Highways. Whilst one officer was behind the wheel of the HGV, another was in the passenger seat watching out for dangerous or distracted driving and recording footage of incidents giving cause for concern. The ‘observer’ then relayed information to a further police vehicle travelling behind, which intercepted and indicated to the driver to pull over. The officers were looking to identify and prevent offences as part of the operation to reduce collisions and improve road safety, journey times, and the reliability of motorways and major roads. The elevated position of the HGV cabs allows police forces to drive alongside vehicles to film any unsafe driver behaviour taking place. Since the initiative began Operation Tramline has stopped over 30,000 vehicles resulting in more than 33,000 offences. The top three offences detected through Operation Tramline are: 1. Mobile phone use 2. Seat belt offences 3. Driver not in proper control. To find out more about Op Tramline head over to our Partners at National Highways. Operation Tramline is supporting Highways England’s road safety Key Performance Indicator (KPI) target of a decrease of at least 40% in the number of people killed or seriously injured on the strategic road network. The contract for the unmarked HGV cab national project aims to change driver behaviour and discourage non-compliance.

RESULTS:
– Officers stopped 258 vehicles for over 279 offences.
– Of these, over 170 were for phone offences.
– 13 HGV drivers were reported to the traffic commissioner.
– A total of 9 drivers were arrested.
– 17 drivers reported for due care or not being in proper control
– 2 driver arrested for driving under the influence of drink or drugs
– 10 vehicles were seized due to the lack of insurance or licence.

Surrey Road Safe (SRS) released footage from the week of enforcement which can be viewed on Facebook.

Throughout the campaign SSRP were also part of the National Highways trail, which was exploring the use of artificial intelligence (AI) enabled cameras to record possible mobile phone and seat belt offences in Sussex.

Sussex Safer Roads Partnership Manager (SSRP), Sophie Witney, hopes the technology will help send a clear message to the small minority of motorists who continue to disregard the law.

“We know distracted driving is a common cause of collisions. Using a mobile phone while driving is both dangerous and illegal and puts the lives of the driver, passengers and other road users at risk which is unacceptable.

The SSRP is excited to be part of this initiative and we are keen to learn and understand more about our roads users and their behaviours so appropriate measures can be taken, whether that be through education, enforcement, engineering or engagement.”

To find out more, visit: www.sussexsaferroads.gov.uk/national-highways-trial-of-new-safety-cameras/ 

SSRP CONTINUE TO WORK TOGETHER TO IMPROVE ROAD SAFETY; SAFER ROADS, SAFER COMMUNITIES AND SHARING THE RESPONSIBILITY.

In response to the NPCC: Mobile Phone Campaign, SSRP organised a new operation to target distracted drivers on our country’s roads. The operation saw uniformed officers using a bus to catch those who chose to use their mobile phone behind the wheel. SSRPs Casualty Reduction Officers were equipped with video recording equipment onboard, to identify passing motorists who are committing offences whilst driving. The height of the bus provides a fantastic vantage point in order to capture the offences. The information was then radioed to the rest of the team operating in the area. Marked and unmarked units were diverted to offending drivers facilitating both enforcement and education. Whilst officers looked at all fatal five offences, their focus was on mobile phone use; including whilst stationary or in slow-moving traffic.

Changes to the law in 2022 expanded the meaning of ‘using’ a mobile phone. This means it is illegal to do any of the following with your handheld device when behind the wheel:

– illuminating the screen
– checking the time
– checking notifications
– unlocking the device
– making, receiving, or rejecting a telephone or internet-based call
– sending, receiving or uploading oral or written content
– sending, receiving or uploading a photo or video
– utilising camera, video, or sound recording
– drafting any text
– accessing any stored data such as documents, books, audio files, photos, videos, films, playlists, notes or messages
– accessing an app
– accessing the internet

There are some exceptions such as calling 999, if it is unsafe or impractical to stop, however in most cases, you should wait until you are safely parked before using a hand-held mobile phone.

What the Highway Code says

Using a phone, sat nav or other device when driving:
It’s illegal to hold and use a phone, sat nav, tablet, or any device that can send or receive data, while driving or riding a motorcycle.
Using mobile phones while driving – the law.

Dangerous driving:
You must not:
– drive dangerously
– drive without due care and attention
– drive without reasonable consideration for other road users
(Rule 144)

Avoiding distractions
Safe driving and riding needs concentration. Avoid distractions when driving or riding such as:
– loud music (this may mask other sounds)
– trying to read maps
– starting or adjusting any music or radio
– arguing with your passengers or other road users
– eating and drinking
– smoking
Driving requires focus and attention at all times. Remember, you may be driving dangerously or travelling too fast even if you don’t mean to (Rule 148).

Existing research shows drivers using either a hand-held or a hands-free phone are four times more likely to be involved in a collision, often fail to notice hazards – even when they appear directly ahead of them – and take longer to react to any hazards they do notice. The project called “We need to talk about hands-free”, was funded by The Road Safety Trust, and involved fellow academics from the Universities of Staffordshire and Keele. While hands-free mobile phone use by drivers is not illegal, a vast body of research has shown it is no safer than hand-held phone use.

If you have dashcam or helmet-cam footage showing somebody driving dangerously or recklessly in Sussex, you can upload it directly via Operation Crackdown. Operation Crackdown is a secure online portal for reporting and submitting video evidence of suspected moving traffic offences witnessed by the public. Any footage submitted to Sussex Police as part of Operation Crackdown should not be posted on social media, footage that is in the public domain may have an adverse effect on any subsequent proceedings. Those found to be committing a driving offence will be prosecuted.

52 Notice of Intended Prosecutions (NIPs) and 139 Educational Letters were sent out in March 2024!

Please do not contact Sussex Police on 101, 999 or online regarding a submission, as they will not be able to advise you on its status.

We want to make the roads of Sussex as safe as possible for all road users. 

An album of images taken during Operation Bus are available here on our website over in our gallery!

Check it out👇

Photo Galleries | Sussex Safer Roads Partnership