HAMPSHIRE and Thames Valley police have joined a national crackdown this week on drivers using mobile telephones at the wheel.
The crackdown follows the recent tragic collision involving a lorry on the A34, driven by Tomasz Kroker, in which four people lost their lives, including three children.
Mr Kroker was jailed for ten years after admitting using his mobile phone for at least seven seconds when his lorry ploughed into stationary traffic at 50mph.
This week police across Hampshire and the Thames Valley will be stopping drivers caught using their phones and issuing penalties.
Hampshire Constabulary’s Road Safety officer, Sgt Rob Heard said: “You are four times more likely to be involved in a collision whilst using a mobile phone or being distracted in a vehicle.
“Unfortunately far too many people are still deciding to take that risk and the consequences of these actions can cause devastation, as we have recently seen with the case on the A34 and a lorry driver being distracted by his phone.
A total of 15 per cent of all fatal collision in Hampshire have involved the driver being distracted or using a mobile phone, yet motorists were still taking that risk.
The last similar campaign, in May saw 190 people caught – an increase of 36 per cent on last year.
Research shows that using a mobile phone makes reactions 50 per cent slower.
Using a hands-free phone does not significantly reduce the risks, due to the mental distraction and divided attention.
The law states it is illegal to ride a motorcycle or drive using hand-held phones or similar devices.
The rules apply while stopped at traffic lights, or in traffic queues.
It’s also illegal to use a hand-held phone or similar device when supervising a learner driver or rider.
A mobile telephone can only be used if safely parked, or because it is necessary to make an emergency call and also unsafe, or impractical to stop.
Hands free devices, including sat navs and two-way radios can be used whilst driving, however police will still stop and penalise drivers not in control of a vehicle.
Offenders can receive an automatic fixed penalty notice, including three driving licence points and a £100 fine.
A court case could result in disqualification from driving and £1,000 maximum fine, rising to £2,500 maximum for drivers of buses or heavy goods vehicles.