More than 130 people were caught driving while using a mobile phone in Suffolk during an enforcement campaign last week.
Police carried out patrols in marked and unmarked cars and bikes in a bid to target drivers using their mobile behind the wheel as part of Operation Ringtone.
The launch of the operation coincided with a nationwide campaign led by the National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC) between 14 and 20 November which sees all forces carrying out extra patrols.
New unmarked motorcycles, fitted with helmet cameras to record incidents and obtain best evidence, were used by officers from the joint roads policing unit.
In seven days 132 drivers were caught using a mobile behind the wheel. On Tuesday (15 November) officers carried out checks in and around Ipswich and issued eight tickets to drivers caught using a mobile phone, two for seatbelts and two for not being in proper control of a vehicle.
Chief Inspector Kris Barnard, head of the Norfolk and Suffolk Roads Policing and Firearms Operations Unit, said: “While it’s disappointing to see so many drivers caught, it’s pleasing to know that offenders are being dealt with. This sends a clear message to those people prepared to take such risks.
“Drivers might not think a momentary glance at a text message is harmful but the attention you give your phone is attention you’re not paying to the road. Hazards on the road, especially when driving at speed, can change so quickly and in that moment if you’re not concentrating 100% you could easily cause a crash, injure or kill someone else, or become a casualty yourself.
“I would urge people who think it’s acceptable to do this behind the wheel to imagine if one of their relatives or friends was seriously injured or even killed in a collision where the driver at fault was using a mobile phone. What would their feelings be towards that driver…I can’t for a second imagine they would be favourable or think that it’s acceptable.”
Suffolk’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Tim Passmore, said, “Time and time again we see drivers using their phones on the move so I absolutely support the Constabulary’s campaign to increase enforcement on our county’s roads.
“Using a mobile phone at the wheel is reckless and costs lives. It absolutely horrifies me when I see drivers on their phones and sadly we see it all too often.
“Nothing that anyone is talking about on their phone while they are driving can be so important that it is worth risking their own life and the life of others.
“The message is simple: don’t take the risk, if you haven’t got ‘hands-free’ in your car switch off your phone before you turn the key in your ignition.”
Recently, Suffolk Constabulary withdrew from offering educational courses for first-time offenders of driving while using a mobile phone. Proposed penalty changes for the offence are currently going through Parliament and next year the automatic penalty will rise from £100 to £200 and three points to six points on your licence.