Police are launching a week-long crackdown across Durham and Cleveland on motorists using their mobile phones.
The campaign will be carried out by officers from the Cleveland and Durham Specialist Operations Unit (CDSOU) from tomorrow.
The aim of the campaign is to educate drivers and robustly enforce the law wherever appropriate, in support of national activity co-ordinated by NPCC (National Police Chiefs Council).
The activity by the road policing crews from the CDSOU will be backed up by a series of casualty reduction messages across both Cleveland and Durham Police’s Facebook pages and Twitter feeds.
From January 1 to December 31 last year 2014, a total of 891 drivers were issued with fixed penalty tickets for using a mobile phone at the wheel across the Cleveland and Durham police force areas.
A further 51 tickets were issued for instances when the driver was classed as not being in proper control of their vehicle – for example, consuming food or applying make-up while driving.
Those who are caught receive a £100 fine and have their licence endorsed with three penalty points.
If the case goes to court the offender can also 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.
Figures compiled by the Department of Transport from police accident records, suggest between 2007 and 2012 – the latest time frame available – there were at least 480 crashes which resulted in fatalities, or people receiving serious or potentially life-changing injuries.
Chief Insp Alison Jackson from the CDSOU, said: “Driving any vehicle requires and deserves your full attention. To do anything else puts your life, the lives of any passengers and other road users at risk.
“Driving while using a mobile phone is one of the ‘fatal four’ contributory factors in serious road traffic collisions. You are more likely to be involved in a serious or even fatal collision as a result of your poor judgment in using a phone.
“Texting is just as bad as making or receiving a call. Taking your eyes off the road for even a second can have serious consequences.
“Over the next week our officers will be making this offence a priority and will stop anyone they see either using a mobile phone, or for some other reason not having full control of their driving.”