DRIVERS in Thatcham are being urged “not to take the risk” by using their mobile phones behind the wheel.
Thatcham’s Neighbourhood Police Team carried out an operation in December, which resulted in 15 people being caught using a phone while driving.
One ticket was issued to a driver not wearing a seat belt and another was handed out for driving with an insecure load.
Sgt Lilian Spinks said that the aim of the operation was to improve driver awareness and keep Thatcham’s roads safe.
The checks, carried out across the town, saw the highest number of tickets issued on the A4, but Sgt Spinks said that a lot of drivers were also caught using their mobile while stuck at Thatcham level crossing.
“Many people don’t realise it is an offence to use a mobile phone when the car is still running, even if you are stationary,” Sgt Spinks said.
“We gave some drivers advice on this, but only issued tickets if they were seen driving while using their phone.”
The current penalty for using a hand-held device while driving is a £100 fine and three penalty points, with the offer of
attending a driver-improvement course to avoid picking up the points.
Under stricter rules brought in from March 1, however, drivers will no longer be offered the course and instead handed a £200 fine and given six penalty points.
The penalty for not wearing a seat belt is a £100 fine.
Issuing a message to drivers, Sgt Spinks said: “Please do not do it, it’s not worth the risk.
“Drivers using their phones are far less aware of what is happening on the road around them and react more slowly, due to the mental distraction.
“The law only bans use of handheld devices and it is legal to use hands-free, but drivers still need to be aware that this can affect their driving.
“Drivers should be aware there is an offence of driving without due care and attention where it is shown that a driver’s driving falls below the standard of that of a reasonable and competent driver.
“When the new fines and points come into effect on March 1, being caught will have a significant impact on drivers both financially and if they are caught twice within three years, they will lose their licence.”