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policebikerpu400Police have this week begun a week long operation targeting motorists who use their mobile phones while driving.

The operation, which began yesterday, will see dedicated teams of officers targeting those who break the law by using their mobile phone whilst driving across both the Isle of Wight and Hampshire, as well as the Thames Valley.

The purpose of the crackdown is not only to impose penalties on those who flout the law, but to also educate drivers about the dangers.

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Between April 2013 and April this year, officers have caught 15,952 drivers using mobile phones or similar devices across the three counties. Shocking, male drivers accounted for some 12,280 of those detected.

Police are reminding those who get behind the wheel that you’re four times more likely to crash if you use a mobile phone while driving; that reaction times for drivers using a phone are around 50 per cent slower than normal driving and even careful drivers can be distracted by a call or text – and a split-second lapse in concentration could result in a crash.

The law says it’s illegal to ride a motorcycle or drive using hand-held phones or similar devices. The law also says the rules are the same if you’re stopped at traffic lights or queuing in traffic and it’s also illegal to use a hand-held phone or similar device when supervising a learner driver or rider.

If caught using your phone while driving, you can expect an automatic fixed penalty notice of three points on your licence and a fine of £100. The case could also go to court and you could be disqualified from driving or riding and get a maximum fine of £1,000. Drivers of buses or goods vehicles could get a maximum fine of £2,500.

As an alternative, those caught may be offered a Driver Diversion Course as an alternative to prosecution. The cost of the course is £85 and run by AA DriveTech.

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You can use hands-free phones, sat navs and 2-way radios when you’re driving or riding. But if the police think you’re distracted and not in control of your vehicle you could still get stopped and penalised.

You can use a phone in your vehicle only if you need to call 999 in an emergency and it’s unsafe or unpractical to stop; or if you are safely parked.

Road Safety Officer Sgt Rob Heard, said:

“Using a mobile phone whilst driving is extremely dangerous. You are fours times more likely to crash if you use a mobile phone whilst driving. The reaction times for drivers is around 50 per cent slower than normal when using a phone.

“My advice is to turn off your phone or put it on silent. Keep your phone out of reach to avoid the temptation of looking at texts or making a call, it’s not worth the risk!”

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