Chief Constable recommends higher penalties for mobile use while driving
Hot after the news that the Police now have powers to test drivers for the influence of drugs, the Chief Constable at Gloucestershire Metropolitan Police has accused the government of failing to facilitate effective measures to prevent or discourage drivers from using their mobile phones while driving.
The mobile phone in itself is a tool which allows users to communicate with friends, associates and business colleagues at any time instantly and access a plethora of data, information, entertainment and apps. Since the arrival of social media and texting the daily culture in the western world has been turned upside down. Whereas it used to be a luxury to have a mobile phone, now it is more or less a necessity. Current culture, especially for the younger generation who are learning to drive , encourages us all to be checking and making contacts every micro second.
I in 4 accidents in the US are connected with mobile phone use
This clearly adds to the long standing problems caused when drivers are distracted at the wheel of a car. In 2014 the Mail Online reported statistics released by the National Safety Council that reflect the size of the problem in the USA alone:
- About 1.3million accidents, or 26 per cent of all pileups, are blamed on drivers using mobile phones. Just to make that clear – one in four accidents are caused by drivers using mobile phones while driving.
- At the time statistics were taken it was clear that the number of accidents was rising: the number of accidents had risen by 1%.
- Only five per cent of all accidents are based on texting while driving so this means in the majority of cases drivers were simply making a telephone call.
Clearly hands free devices are an excellent safety measure for dealing with the on-going distraction of using phones while driving but unfortunately most cars do not have that facility and to a certain extent many would argue that the whole process is distracting the driver from concentrating on the road in front of them.
Is the government holding back because of the May election?
Chief constable Suzette Davenport believes that motorists who have been caught for a second time using their mobile phone while driving should be banned from driving for a substantial period of time. She also made plain on the BBC Radio 5 Live’s Breakfast Show that the reason the government were not taking action was because they did not wish to present new unpopular laws which may hamper their chance of winning the next election in May.
She said “There are lots of things I talk about with government, lots of different interest groups. They listen to those people and an election is not too far away, so I am sure they will not want to pick up and run with anything they feel is not likely to be helpful to them in the next election.”
In answer to her remarks, Robert Goodwill, the roads minister, has stated that the government is not refraining from enforcing new regulations because of the election at all. He stated that they are already contemplating the possibility of increasing the penalty from three points to six if you are found driving while using a phone.
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