Crackdown on phone and drive

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Less than a year after a Dunstable mum and three children were killed by a lorry driver on his mobile tough new rules have been introduced to crackdown on people driving while on their phone.

Tracy Houghton, her two sons and her partner’s daughter were killed in August last year as they returned from a camping trip. The driver of the lorry, who had been distracted by his mobile phone as his vehicle smashed into a stationary line of traffic was jailed for causing their deaths.

Their families have since called for more action against drivers using their mobiles.

The campaign,launched today, highlights the dangers of using a mobile phone whilst driving and raise awareness of a change in the law.

The penalty for driving whilst using a mobile phone will double to six points and a £200 fine. For drivers with less than two years’ experience that could mean a ban for one offence.

Highways England have provided the Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire Road Policing Unit with a HGV cab as an additional tool to assist with enforcement. The HGV cab has room for two officers and provides a better vantage point to help catch offenders who may be driving larger vehicles. They have also provided funding to train extra police officers to enable them to get a HGV licence.

Sergeant Ian Manley, of the Road Policing Unit, said: “Having the HGV cab provides us with extra enforcement opportunities which we wouldn’t have in standard police vehicles. It’s great to have the support of Highways England in enforcing this change in the legislation.

“If you use a mobile phone whilst driving you significantly increase your chances of being involved in a serious, even fatal collision. We need to educate the public that this behaviour is completely unacceptable. Using a phone behind the wheel not only puts your life at risk, but that of other innocent road users.”

In addition to enforcement work, content will be published on the Peterborough and Cambridgeshire Road Safety Partnership’s social media channels to help raise awareness.

In the first 11 months of last year 2,796 people were caught using a mobile phone behind the wheel in Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire. 564 of the people caught were from Bedfordshire.