Two-tier justice for mobile phone drivers
MOTORISTS in Scotland will face fines for using mobile phones at the wheel from Monday, even though English drivers are to get a two-month ‘grace period’.
The new law is intended to cut the potential for road accidents caused by drivers who use mobiles without a hands-free kit. An on-the-spot fine of 30 will be imposed on offenders.
But there was controversy over the move last night after it emerged a different approach is being taken by police north and south of the Border.
Yesterday, the Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo) - which represents chief constables and their deputies in England and Wales - issued guidelines granting motorists two months’ grace.
But in Scotland, the Association of Chief Police Officers Scotland (Acpos) has given no such advice.
A spokeswoman for Strathclyde Police said: "The law will be enforced on Monday. Obviously officers will be able to use their discretion but we are not saying anything about a settling-in period."
The 30 fine could rise to 1,000 if the case goes to court, while drivers of heavy good vehicles, buses and coaches could be forced to pay as much as 2,500.
Chief Inspector Bob Barbour of Strathclyde Police said: "The use of a hand-held phone while driving is extremely dangerous and irresponsible. Driving requires a high level of concentration and it is vital that motorists keep their hands on the wheel and not on their phones."
But as Scotland cracks down, police officers in England and Wales have been told generally to give verbal warnings until February.
The concession was being made "in order to assist in the education of drivers", said Acpo. Officers will be able to issue fines straight away if they feel serious potential danger was caused, or if use of a mobile has contributed to a collision.
Acpo motoring head and North Wales Chief Constable Richard Brunstrom said: "During this initial period, the Department for Transport will be continuing its road safety advertising campaign so we will hopefully achieve dual reinforcement of the message that mobile phones are a serious distraction when used by a driver.
"Police officers will still be able to take formal enforcement action in any instance they consider appropriate."
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