Drivers face new crackdown on mobiles
POLICE yesterday launched a crackdown on motorists using mobile phones while behind the wheel, after new figures showed Scots were "blatantly" breaking the law.
The Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland (ACPOS) welcomed government moves to hit offenders with a doubled fine of 60 and three penalty points on their licences, after the latest statistics revealed that drivers were still putting lives at risk.
On the first anniversary of the ban on using mobile phones while driving, police figures showed that almost 7,200 motorists across the country had been fined.
Officers said recent research suggested that the problem could be more widespread than thought, with spot-checks identifying 15 drivers flouting the law every hour.
Road-safety officers undertook the checks at 19 sites across the Lothians and Borders in the past month.
A total of 143 drivers were spotted breaking the law - the equivalent of one in every 43 motorists.
Tractor drivers were found to be the worst offenders, with 33 per cent caught breaking the law. The figure was 3.6 per cent among van drivers, while 2.3 per cent of lorry drivers, 2 per cent of car drivers, 1.6 per cent of bus drivers and 1.3 per cent of both taxi and minibus drivers were spotted using mobiles at the wheel.
Further studies by the motorists’ group the RAC have revealed 40 per cent of drivers use their mobile phones while driving, compared with just 10 per cent when the ban was introduced on 1 December, 2003.
Charles Michie, of ACPOS’s road policing standing committee and the Assistant Chief Constable of Lothian and Borders, said the association was "delighted" by government plans to increase penalties for drivers caught using mobiles.
"I’m convinced it’s not that motorists are unaware of what they are doing - they are just blatantly breaking it and putting lives at risk," he said.
Nicol Stephen, the Scottish transport minister, supported the police crackdown. "The first anniversary of the ban presents a timely reminder as to the dangers of using mobile phones while driving and I’m pleased to support the initiative shown by our police forces to crack down on its use," he said.
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