Drivers are being warned that police are out to enforce tough new laws aimed at cracking down on using mobile phones while behind the wheel.
Cleveland and Durham’s Specialist Operations Unit will be taking part in a nationally co-ordinated week-long operation to enforce new penalties for using a mobile phone while driving which come into force today.
Drivers caught using their mobiles will now be subject to a £200 fine and six points on their licence.
The new legislation could also have a huge effect on new drivers in their probationary period.
The probationary period for someone who has just passed their driving test is two years. In this time if a new driver receives six points their licence will be revoked.
This is the second week of action this year.
During a week long campaign in January, a total of 133 motorists were apprehended for using their mobile phones whilst driving - 61 in Cleveland and 72 in County Durham and Darlington.
Police hope the new legislation will deter drivers from using any kind of electronic device at the wheel which will distract them from driving.
Inspector Harry Simpson from the CDSOU, said any drivers taking the risk of using a phone, or being otherwise seriously distracted while at the wheel can expect no second chances.
He said: “We will have a number of officers dedicated to this campaign across the week, using unmarked as well as marked police cars. “Over the years there have been plenty of educational campaigns so no-one can claim to be unaware this is against the law and also incredibly dangerous.
“Despite this, over 130 people were caught using their mobile phones last month in a week long campaign.”
“There are clearly some people who feel the law doesn’t apply to them. But over the next week they will discover our officers are making this offence a priority and that we have a zero-tolerance approach.”
Ron Hogg, Police, Crime and Victims Commissioner for County Durham and Darlington, said “These new penalties are a real deterrent to dangerous driving. But an even greater deterrent should be the knowledge that being distracted by a phone could result in an accident, serious injury to the driver and others, and even death.
“The phone call will wait. But if you kill someone, that is not something you can undo.”