Some ‘still don’t care’ - police aim to rid roads of drivers using mobile phones
Police are hitting the streets to remind motorists that using a mobile phone while driving can be deadly.
Operation Ringtone was launched at Ipswich waterfront yesterday by the police and crime commissioner, road casualty reduction team and the county council's highways chief.
The campaign includes a week of patrols in marked and unmarked vehicles fitted with cameras, as part of an effort to combat the 'fatal four' main factors in collisions resulting in death and serious injury - speeding, seatbelts, mobile devices and drink/drug driving.
Sergeant Scott Lee-Amies, of the serious collision investigation team, said every officer at the launch had dealt with a fatal road collision at some point in their policing careers.
'Unfortunately, we're seeing more and more instances of people involved in road traffic collisions as a result of being distracted in their cars,' he added.
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'Mobile phone use is still one of the main factors we're trying to address.
'If you do it, we will stop you and you will be dealt with.
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'We want to make it as socially unacceptable as drink-driving.
'For some, the habit of going to their phone when bored continues in the car.
'Hard-hitting campaigns are effective for most of the public – but there remains a group of people who just don't care.'
Last year, 1,179 penalty notices were issued in Suffolk for driving while using a mobile phone – with 62 people caught during the last week of action in July.
Penalties were also increased to six penalty points and a £200 fine.
Suffolk's Police and Crime Commissioner Tim Passmore said: 'Using a mobile phone at the wheel is reckless and costs lives.
'I hope the increased penalties will be the catalyst for change.'
Jane Storey, Suffolk County Council's highways and transport boss, and chairman of the Suffolk Roadsafe Board, said: 'The council is very concerned with road safety, and anything that keeps the highways and roads of Suffolk safer is brilliant.
'It's incredible the amount of people who still ignore the law.'
Operation Ringtone coincides with a nationwide campaign led by the National Police Chiefs' Council (NPCC).
Lawbreakers can be reported on the Suffolk police website, which allows people to submit dash cam footage as supporting evidence.