Police launch #OpRingtone to catch drivers using phones

BBPNBM Man using a blackberry cell phone to check email while drive his car. Image shot 2009. Exact date unknown. PPP-150102-170615001
BBPNBM Man using a blackberry cell phone to check email while drive his car. Image shot 2009. Exact date unknown. PPP-150102-170615001

Police in Norfolk have launched a new crackdown on drivers using mobile phones, which started yesterday, after a considerable increase in the number of people admitting to the offence.

As part of a national campaign, Operation Ringtone will see officers target drivers caught using their phones at the wheel in a bid to prosecute offenders and emphasise the risks and consequences of being distracted whilst driving.

It comes after an annual report on motoring by the RAC which suggested the number of motorists illegally using phones is rising, with 31 per cent of drivers admitting to using a handheld phone while driving, which is up from four per cent in 2014.

In a bid to catch offenders and ensure drivers understand the risks, officers will be patrolling using unmarked cars, helmet cams and high vantage points.

Signs on prime commuter routes urging drivers to ‘Leave Your Phone Alone’ are also part of the campaign.

Norfolk Police are no longer offering educational courses for first-time offenders, and any driver who is caught using their phone will receive a minimum of three penalty points and a £100 fine, the force have said.

This is due to increase to six penalty points and a £200 fine next year, if the proposed changes are approved by Parliament.

This week marks the second national week of action against motorists using phones.

The first, which was in May this year, saw more than 2,000 offences reported across the week.

According to Think!, the Government’s roadsafety campaign, “using a mobile phone, sat nav or any similar device whilst driving means that the driver’s attention is distracted from the road”.

It also states that studies show drivers using a hands-free or handheld phone are slower at recognising and reacting to hazards.

The operation will run until Sunday.