The Chief Constable of Greater Manchester, Ian Hopkins, has said that using a phone at the wheel is as bad as drink driving. Greater Manchester Police have started a major operation using undercover and marked police vehicles to catch people who use their mobile phones behind the wheel. The operation will run until the end of the year.
Hopkins says: “It is time for drivers to take personal responsibility for what they do when in charge of a vehicle. The consequences of using a mobile while behind the wheel are huge and can lead to people being seriously injured or killed. It leaves families devastated and we must stop it now.”
Danny Clarke is Group Operations Director for the ELAS Group. He says it’s important for businesses to take responsibility when it comes to the safety of their drivers behind the wheel: “Most businesses will have policies in place for alcohol or drug use, including drink driving, as well as driver safety medicals but mobile phone use can sometimes fall through the cracks. Research shows that almost a third of drivers admit to using a hand held device, compared to just 8% in 2014 so it is clearly something that needs to be addressed. A recent survey found that six out of ten lorry drivers admitted to using their phones, with almost a fifth shockingly admitting to taking selfies! We would advise businesses to implement the same zero-tolerance policy they have towards drink driving when it comes to use of mobile phones while driving.”
From early next year the penalties for using a mobile while driving will increase to 6 penalty points and a £200 fine, double the current punishment. Danny Clarke continues: “As well as potential damage to reputation and loss of business, companies could also face significantly higher fines if their drivers are caught using phones behind the wheel. Forward thinking transport operators should ensure their employees are aware that if they are caught on their phone while driving they could not only lose their licence but also their job.”