Drivers just won’t hang up the phone

MOTORISTS are ignoring warnings on the dangers of using mobile phones while driving.

Despite the evidence that a momentary lapse to text or answer a call while behind the wheel can lead to crashes, drivers are still taking risks.

That’s the findings from a day of action earlier this week to coincide with the fifth anniversary of legislation making it an endorsable offence to use a hand-held device while driving.

Monday’s 24-hour crackdown was organised by ACPOS (Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland).

In the Central Scotland Police force area, 18 people were caught by officers driving while using their mobile phones, while a further five were stopped for failing to wear a seatbelt.

Across Scotland 261 motorists, 195 driving cars, were detected using their mobiles, with another 319 caught not wearing seatbelts.

Chief Inspector Donald McMillan, Central’s head of road policing, said: “It’s disappointing to see that drivers are still prepared to risk their lives – and those of other people – by using mobile phones and other distraction devices when behind the wheel.

“Using a mobile phone whilst driving increases your chances of being involved in a road traffic collision and Central Scotland Police will continue to actively target motorists who do so.”

He added that research had shown reaction times of those using a hand-held mobile phone are 30 per cent slower than those driving while under the influence of alcohol at the legal limit.

The chief inspector said: “It is not worth the risk to use a mobile phone while driving. Ignore your phone if it rings or if you get a text. It only takes a second to be distracted and that second could result in a collision which could have life changing consequences.”

However, Central Scotland’s police chief said that making the use of mobiles while driving an endorsable offence had led to a reduction in use.

Last week, in a report to the Joint Police Board, Chief Constable Kevin Smith revealed that in the nine months from April 1 to December 31 last year, 929 offenders were detected for illegal use of mobiles while driving. This was down 171 on the same period in 2009. Meanwhile, over 1597 were caught not wearing seatbealts, down from 2035.

However the number caught speeding had risen by 1247 to 7753.

The chief said: “I believe the reduction in numbers is people starting to understand that these are a major cause of road collisions. Mobile phone use began showing a downward trend when it became endorsable.”

However, he added there is no UK legislation to make failing to wear a seatbelt an endorsable offence.