More than 30 drivers in Plymouth have received fines after police conducted a two-day road safety operation using a double decker bus to spot people using mobile phones.
The operation was conducted with the assistance of CityBus who loaned the bus to police, giving them a raised view of drivers in their vehicles. This allowed officers on both levels of the bus to spot drivers who were using mobile phones or driving without a seatbelt.
The first day of the operation saw officers on board the Torpoint Ferry and patrol towers either side. This resulted in a total of 12 fixed penalty notices being issued to drivers using mobile phones, driving without insurance, driving without an MOT and not wearing seatbelts.
One vehicle was also searched under misuse of drugs laws and one person was arrested for possession of an imitation firearm.
The second day involved officers on a double decker CityBus patrolling roads throughout the city. This resulted in 20 fixed penalty tickets being issued, 17 of which were for using a mobile phone while driving.
Road Casualty Reduction Officer MPC Charlie Oliver said: “Distracted driving is one of the ‘Fatal Five’ causes of many serious and fatal collisions.
“You may think that checking a quick message or scrolling through a music playlist on your phone is harmless, but it only takes a split second of distraction to cause a major collision which could harm you, your passengers and others on the road.
“I would urge all drivers to put their phones somewhere out of reach, like the glove box, to avoid any temptation to use it.”
Next month, the law regarding mobile phone use while driving will change.
From March 25, handling a phone in any way – including touching the screen to scroll a music playlist, browse the internet, take a photograph or play a mobile game – will result in a £200 fine and six penalty points. The only exceptions are making calls to emergency services and to using contactless payments at drive-thrus and to pay tolls.
The new rules also apply to drivers who are stopped at a red light or stuck in traffic.
Supt Adrian Leisk, strategic roads policing lead and chair of the Vision Zero South West enforcement sub-group, said: “Drivers across Devon and Cornwall can expect to see more innovative operations like the one our officers conducted in Plymouth over the next few months.
“Vision Zero South West has set itself the ambitious target of halving all fatal and serious crashes in Devon and Cornwall by 2030 – and then reducing them to zero.
“We know that driving whilst distracted is a significant factor in many collisions and the very simple way to avoid this is to put your phone away before setting off on your journey.”