Full scale of mobile phone abuse in East Lancashire revealed

THE full scale of mobile phone abuse by drivers in East Lancashire has been revealed for the first time.

Almost 6,000 people have been given penalty points, figures obtained under the Freedom of Information Act show.

And now there are calls from road safety campaigners and MPs for automatic 12 month bans for those caught using their phone behind the wheel.

They say the practice should be as frowned upon as drink driving, as it could be a ‘life or death’ issue.

And police said using a mobile whilst driving was ‘equally as dangerous’ as drink driving.

Almost 6,000 people in East Lancashire have been given three points and a fine since the law was introduced in 2003.

And when the Lancashire Telegraph watched drivers for just half an hour, we spotted nine people texting or calling at the wheel, including two taxi drivers.

Police and politicians have condemned the offenders, who have been accused of putting lives at risk.

MPs are calling on Lancashire Police to put just as many resources into catching those on the phone behind the wheel as they do for drink drivers.

Up to August this year, 5,785 offences were racked up, some by the same drivers, the data showed.

One driver from Blackburn was even caught on four separate occasions and handed 12 points, qualifying them for a ban.

Most offenders were men, who were caught 4,633 times, while women were given three points 1,146 times. The DVLA did not record the driver’s gender on the other six occasions.

East Lancashire was one of the worst in the north west for mobile phone use behind the wheel. Only Preston, Liverpool, Manchester, and Warrington had worse figures out of 13 towns, which included Bolton and Blackpool post code areas.

A Telegraph reporter also surveyed drivers for 30 minutes outside Thwaites Brewery, in Barbara Castle Way, Blackburn.

A total of nine were seen texting or calling, including two taxi drivers.

Others were eating and drinking - technically a ‘driving without due care and attention’ offence - including one woman who was using a spoon to eat food from her lap.

Haslingden and Hyndburn MP Graham Jones said: “This is a life and death issue. Clearly, looking at a smart phone screen while trying to drive is impossible, and can only lead to a higher risk of an accident, possibly fatal.

“I think the police focus on safety and when driving using a mobile phone is as dangerous as driving while under the influence, they ought to be treating the two offences the same.

“If it can be shown that people are flouting the law openly, then for those that are caught, the sentence should be far more severe to deter those that think they can get away with it.

“What the Lancashire Telegraph is doing in highlighting this issue is worthy and it should be congratulated.

“It ought to be frowned upon by wider society, particularly at this time of year.”

Burnley MP Gordon Birtwistle said: “People using their phone held up to their ear are irresponsible, and how they can do it I don’t know.

“I have seen people sending texts while driving, and that’s dangerous. They could kill themselves, and somebody else.

“Anybody that puts the lives of other people at risk due to being selfish and irresponsible should be treated no differently than a drink driver.”

Drivers or motorcyclists caught using a mobile phone get an automatic fixed penalty notice with three points and a fine.

Although the number of penalty points handed out to offenders has remained at three since 2003, the fine has increased.

It rose from the initial £30 in 2003, to £60 in 2007, and to £100 last year.

The case could also go to court and drivers can 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.

New drivers will lose their licence if they get six or more penalty points within two years of passing, and more experienced drivers face a ban after totting up 12 points.

Sergeant Pete Sculpher, from Lancashire Police, said: “Running a red light, using a mobile phone, or people allowing themselves to be distracted for whatever reason can result in serious, if not fatal, consequences and we would always urge people to drive with care and avoid taking risks.

“People don’t realise that using a mobile phone while driving can be equally as dangerous as drink driving and people who wouldn’t dream of getting behind the wheel while over the limit, will still use their phones during a journey.”

More than 80 per cent of children surveyed by road charity Brake said they had seen drivers using a mobile phone near to their school or home, and 61 per cent said they had been in a car while the driver was talking on their phone.

Brake has called on the government to disqualify the drivers for a minimum of 12 months, as a ‘real deterrent’.

Katie Shephard, director of Brake, said: “We’re living in an age when being constantly connected is the norm; more and more of us have smartphones, and find it hard to switch off, even for a minute.

“Many people who wouldn't dream of drink-driving are succumbing to using their phone and other distractions while driving, oblivious that the effect can be similar and the consequences just as horrific.”

Comments (23)

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7:49am Sat 28 Dec 13

HarryBosch says...

These are appalling figures! It has been an offence for long enough now that there is no driver who can say they don't know how serious it is. If the current system is not working then I would whole heartedly support bringing in an automatic 12 month ban. These imbeciles put our lives at risk every time we go out on the road.
These are appalling figures! It has been an offence for long enough now that there is no driver who can say they don't know how serious it is. If the current system is not working then I would whole heartedly support bringing in an automatic 12 month ban. These imbeciles put our lives at risk every time we go out on the road. HarryBosch

9:04am Sat 28 Dec 13

Dave Harwood says...

Journalism by Freedom of Information request yet again sighs
Journalism by Freedom of Information request yet again sighs Dave Harwood

9:06am Sat 28 Dec 13

Mikeee47 says...

would be really interesting to see which police officers or Politician get the 1st ban?
would be really interesting to see which police officers or Politician get the 1st ban? Mikeee47

9:30am Sat 28 Dec 13

past it says...

A 12 month ban seems a bit draconian, but if it saves just one life then bring it in, Quite surprised at the number of men caught, as when driving the number of young women looking down at their laps then glancing round then back to laps, some with a strange white glow, seems very high.
A 12 month ban seems a bit draconian, but if it saves just one life then bring it in, Quite surprised at the number of men caught, as when driving the number of young women looking down at their laps then glancing round then back to laps, some with a strange white glow, seems very high. past it

9:49am Sat 28 Dec 13

rudis_dad says...

past it wrote:
A 12 month ban seems a bit draconian, but if it saves just one life then bring it in, Quite surprised at the number of men caught, as when driving the number of young women looking down at their laps then glancing round then back to laps, some with a strange white glow, seems very high.
That would say to me then that women are more devious about it. Blokes are more likely to be blatant.
[quote][p][bold]past it[/bold] wrote: A 12 month ban seems a bit draconian, but if it saves just one life then bring it in, Quite surprised at the number of men caught, as when driving the number of young women looking down at their laps then glancing round then back to laps, some with a strange white glow, seems very high.[/p][/quote]That would say to me then that women are more devious about it. Blokes are more likely to be blatant. rudis_dad

9:57am Sat 28 Dec 13

Manuel Hung says...

Sadly I think we will see the number of prosecutions going down not up. The reduction in the number of Police Officers as a result of the efforts of May & Camoron can only mean one thing.

Less Traffic Cops = Less prosecutions.
Sadly I think we will see the number of prosecutions going down not up. The reduction in the number of Police Officers as a result of the efforts of May & Camoron can only mean one thing. Less Traffic Cops = Less prosecutions. Manuel Hung

10:43am Sat 28 Dec 13

You're not mugging me off that easily says...

Mikeee47 wrote:
would be really interesting to see which police officers or Politician get the 1st ban?
Yeah but it wouldn't really would it ?
[quote][p][bold]Mikeee47[/bold] wrote: would be really interesting to see which police officers or Politician get the 1st ban?[/p][/quote]Yeah but it wouldn't really would it ? You're not mugging me off that easily

11:11am Sat 28 Dec 13

trevhd says...

Quite difficult for a motorcyclist to use a phone whilst riding the helmet and gloves are a bit of a barrier .
Quite difficult for a motorcyclist to use a phone whilst riding the helmet and gloves are a bit of a barrier . trevhd

12:06pm Sat 28 Dec 13

Lancs - pensioner says...

With technology in cars these days there's no need to hold a phone, I pulled up along side a Jag the other day and he was trying to cover up the fact he had a mobile phone in his hand.
It's only when they kill someone they feel really really sorry, well that's not good enough, BAN them for twelve months!!
With technology in cars these days there's no need to hold a phone, I pulled up along side a Jag the other day and he was trying to cover up the fact he had a mobile phone in his hand. It's only when they kill someone they feel really really sorry, well that's not good enough, BAN them for twelve months!! Lancs - pensioner

12:22pm Sat 28 Dec 13

You're not mugging me off that easily says...

Lancs - pensioner wrote:
With technology in cars these days there's no need to hold a phone, I pulled up along side a Jag the other day and he was trying to cover up the fact he had a mobile phone in his hand.
It's only when they kill someone they feel really really sorry, well that's not good enough, BAN them for twelve months!!
I'm surprised you're still driving. Old people can be just as big a danger on the roads as mobile phone users.
[quote][p][bold]Lancs - pensioner[/bold] wrote: With technology in cars these days there's no need to hold a phone, I pulled up along side a Jag the other day and he was trying to cover up the fact he had a mobile phone in his hand. It's only when they kill someone they feel really really sorry, well that's not good enough, BAN them for twelve months!![/p][/quote]I'm surprised you're still driving. Old people can be just as big a danger on the roads as mobile phone users. You're not mugging me off that easily

12:24pm Sat 28 Dec 13

You're not mugging me off that easily says...

Mikeee47 wrote:
would be really interesting to see which police officers or Politician get the 1st ban?
Still bitter and twisted about getting points on yer licence eh Mikeeee ?
[quote][p][bold]Mikeee47[/bold] wrote: would be really interesting to see which police officers or Politician get the 1st ban?[/p][/quote]Still bitter and twisted about getting points on yer licence eh Mikeeee ? You're not mugging me off that easily

2:26pm Sat 28 Dec 13

Just an observer says...

Just imagine that call, Hi darling i got the milk & bread you thud beeeeeeep crunch crunch crunch.well who would have thought that??? simple solutions are PHONE OFF or GET BLUETOOTH INSTALLED. Wow how easy was that? not rocket science eh.
Just imagine that call, Hi darling i got the milk & bread you thud beeeeeeep crunch crunch crunch.well who would have thought that??? simple solutions are PHONE OFF or GET BLUETOOTH INSTALLED. Wow how easy was that? not rocket science eh. Just an observer

2:30pm Sat 28 Dec 13

Just an observer says...

Simple answer here, either switch the phone off or have bluetooth installed. not rocket science that.
Simple answer here, either switch the phone off or have bluetooth installed. not rocket science that. Just an observer

2:31pm Sat 28 Dec 13

the white witch says...

It`s about time the mp`s & police started to crack down on phones in cars. I am a car driver & the amount of people i see on a mobile, eating looking down, or doing their hair/make up whilst driving is sickening to see.
After all through your own stupidity when you end up killing someone it`s somebody`s loved one you have taken away from them not only putting yourself at risk, so people should think long & hard, DRIVE TO LIVE & LET OTHERS LIVE, don`t have it on your conscience.
It`s about time the mp`s & police started to crack down on phones in cars. I am a car driver & the amount of people i see on a mobile, eating looking down, or doing their hair/make up whilst driving is sickening to see. After all through your own stupidity when you end up killing someone it`s somebody`s loved one you have taken away from them not only putting yourself at risk, so people should think long & hard, DRIVE TO LIVE & LET OTHERS LIVE, don`t have it on your conscience. the white witch

2:36pm Sat 28 Dec 13

the white witch says...

Just an observer wrote:
Just imagine that call, Hi darling i got the milk & bread you thud beeeeeeep crunch crunch crunch.well who would have thought that??? simple solutions are PHONE OFF or GET BLUETOOTH INSTALLED. Wow how easy was that? not rocket science eh.
Just thinking about that one phone call you never want should be enough to make you stop & think ........
[quote][p][bold]Just an observer[/bold] wrote: Just imagine that call, Hi darling i got the milk & bread you thud beeeeeeep crunch crunch crunch.well who would have thought that??? simple solutions are PHONE OFF or GET BLUETOOTH INSTALLED. Wow how easy was that? not rocket science eh.[/p][/quote]Just thinking about that one phone call you never want should be enough to make you stop & think ........ the white witch

3:08pm Sat 28 Dec 13

Lancs - pensioner says...

You're not mugging me off that easily wrote:
Lancs - pensioner wrote:
With technology in cars these days there's no need to hold a phone, I pulled up along side a Jag the other day and he was trying to cover up the fact he had a mobile phone in his hand.
It's only when they kill someone they feel really really sorry, well that's not good enough, BAN them for twelve months!!
I'm surprised you're still driving. Old people can be just as big a danger on the roads as mobile phone users.
Lol nice one mugger.
[quote][p][bold]You're not mugging me off that easily[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Lancs - pensioner[/bold] wrote: With technology in cars these days there's no need to hold a phone, I pulled up along side a Jag the other day and he was trying to cover up the fact he had a mobile phone in his hand. It's only when they kill someone they feel really really sorry, well that's not good enough, BAN them for twelve months!![/p][/quote]I'm surprised you're still driving. Old people can be just as big a danger on the roads as mobile phone users.[/p][/quote]Lol nice one mugger. Lancs - pensioner

3:20pm Sat 28 Dec 13

You're not mugging me off that easily says...

the white witch wrote:
It`s about time the mp`s & police started to crack down on phones in cars. I am a car driver & the amount of people i see on a mobile, eating looking down, or doing their hair/make up whilst driving is sickening to see.
After all through your own stupidity when you end up killing someone it`s somebody`s loved one you have taken away from them not only putting yourself at risk, so people should think long & hard, DRIVE TO LIVE & LET OTHERS LIVE, don`t have it on your conscience.
See Manuel Hung's comment. Few cops due to budget cuts = less prosecutions.
[quote][p][bold]the white witch[/bold] wrote: It`s about time the mp`s & police started to crack down on phones in cars. I am a car driver & the amount of people i see on a mobile, eating looking down, or doing their hair/make up whilst driving is sickening to see. After all through your own stupidity when you end up killing someone it`s somebody`s loved one you have taken away from them not only putting yourself at risk, so people should think long & hard, DRIVE TO LIVE & LET OTHERS LIVE, don`t have it on your conscience.[/p][/quote]See Manuel Hung's comment. Few cops due to budget cuts = less prosecutions. You're not mugging me off that easily

4:48pm Sat 28 Dec 13

A Darener says...

Motorist drove for years without mobile phones.
It is NOT necessary to have one in use in a car, either handheld or remotely, it is still a distraction.
SWITCH IT OFF!
You can catch up when you park up.
Motorist drove for years without mobile phones. It is NOT necessary to have one in use in a car, either handheld or remotely, it is still a distraction. SWITCH IT OFF! You can catch up when you park up. A Darener

6:31pm Sat 28 Dec 13

madari says...

Madari tha snake charmer says:

The article fails to mention that Whalley Range, Blackburn and Sytoneyholme , Burnley have their own highway code imported from the east which allows the use of mobile phones with complete impunity to people from that part of the world
Madari tha snake charmer says: The article fails to mention that Whalley Range, Blackburn and Sytoneyholme , Burnley have their own highway code imported from the east which allows the use of mobile phones with complete impunity to people from that part of the world madari

8:38am Sun 29 Dec 13

DaveBurnley says...

Driving with your fog lights on and stereo blasting out exempts you from all road traffic laws.
Driving with your fog lights on and stereo blasting out exempts you from all road traffic laws. DaveBurnley

9:24pm Sun 29 Dec 13

fireonthemountain says...

DaveBurnley - we don't see eye to eye on a lot of topics ,

But I have to say that your comment 8.38 is magnificent .
DaveBurnley - we don't see eye to eye on a lot of topics , But I have to say that your comment 8.38 is magnificent . fireonthemountain

9:20am Mon 30 Dec 13

Real Ale Up North says...

3 penalty points is no deterrent - and that's why people continue to take the risk of being caught. Perhaps a short driving ban is in order. A month will deter a few, I'm sure.
3 penalty points is no deterrent - and that's why people continue to take the risk of being caught. Perhaps a short driving ban is in order. A month will deter a few, I'm sure. Real Ale Up North

10:50am Mon 30 Dec 13

Izanears says...

I often have to risk life and limb crossing a very busy road which is notorious for its accidents, many of them fatal. I have given up being surprised at just how many drivers I see using phones when the vehicle is in motion.The strange thing is that many of them have either just left home or just arriving home. One I see regularly just phones to tell his missus to open/shut the gates at the entrance to his drive. Taxi drivers seem to be among the worst offenders. Speeding along jabbering away with one hand on the steering wheel with the phone clamped to their ear. A twelve month is certainly not draconian. If I had my way I would impound their vehicle as well.
I often have to risk life and limb crossing a very busy road which is notorious for its accidents, many of them fatal. I have given up being surprised at just how many drivers I see using phones when the vehicle is in motion.The strange thing is that many of them have either just left home or just arriving home. One I see regularly just phones to tell his missus to open/shut the gates at the entrance to his drive. Taxi drivers seem to be among the worst offenders. Speeding along jabbering away with one hand on the steering wheel with the phone clamped to their ear. A twelve month is certainly not draconian. If I had my way I would impound their vehicle as well. Izanears

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