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Police chief ‘staggered’ that hundreds of drivers are still risking lives by using mobile phones at the wheel in Suffolk

PUBLISHED: 05:00 12 January 2018 | UPDATED: 13:08 12 January 2018

Detective Inspector Chris Hinitt from the Norfolk and Suffolk Roads Policing Unit.  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Detective Inspector Chris Hinitt from the Norfolk and Suffolk Roads Policing Unit. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Archant

It is staggering that drivers continue risking lives by using mobile phones at the wheel despite a zero-tolerance approach from police, a senior Suffolk detective is warning.

More than 400 drivers were fined or prosecuted for using mobile phones at the wheel from April to October last year. Graphic: ARCHANTMore than 400 drivers were fined or prosecuted for using mobile phones at the wheel from April to October last year. Graphic: ARCHANT

Detective Inspector Chris Hinitt, of the serious collision investigation team, is asking offending motorists how they would feel if it was their relative killed by a driver using their phone as new figures reveal hundreds are still doing it.

Latest statistics show that more than 400 drivers were fined or prosecuted for using the devices at the wheel between April and October last year.

Dozens were caught on major roads – with 50 on the A14 and 38 on the A12 – while the worst offending town was Ipswich.

Detective Inspector Hinitt said: “It staggers me that people still think it’s acceptable to risk lives by using their mobile phones when they are driving.

Tim Passmore, Suffolk's Police and Crime Commissioner. Picture: Courtesy of Suffolk PCC.Tim Passmore, Suffolk's Police and Crime Commissioner. Picture: Courtesy of Suffolk PCC.

“The 426 figure is a drop in the ocean, as that’s only the people we’ve been able to catch.

“We’re still having drivers tell us they’ve seen people on their phones, on a daily basis. It beggars belief that the message just isn’t getting through.”

Lots of people are starting to think twice, the police chief added, but there are still motorists who feel they need to take urgent phone calls.

He said: “We have a zero tolerance approach and give people ‘the talk’, educating them on why there is no excuse.

“We see the carnage caused by people who have lost concentration.

“We want people to ask themselves how would they feel if we were turning up on their door and telling them their loved one had been killed or seriously injured because of someone who was on their phone.”

Suffolk’s police and crime commissioner Tim Passmore said he had hoped the bigger fines of £200 and six penalty points would deter drivers.

But he added: “Time and time again we see drivers using their phones on the move, I really can’t believe how reckless people can be.

“Using a mobile phone at the wheel is against the law, it’s dangerous and costs lives.

“It absolutely horrifies me when I see drivers on their phones and sadly we see it all too often.

“I had hoped that the increase in fines would have had an impact but I’m not sure it has – hopefully in time it will.”

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