Northumbria Police are this week backing a national campaign to tackle mobile phone use whilst driving.
Last year new legislation came into effect that doubled the punishment for using a mobile phone behind the wheel.
Under the new laws offending drivers will face an automatic £200 fine and six points on their licence.
Officers will regularly stop drivers who have been seen on their mobile phones but this week there will be extra scrutiny on motorists.
That is because Northumbria Police are participating in a National Police Chief Council (NPCC) led campaign starting today (April 16).
This is a follow up to a campaign last July when nationally 2,509 mobile phone offences were detected with 8,358 motorists being stopped.
The campaign will last until Sunday, April 22, and see traffic officers on the lookout for those using their mobile phones behind the wheel.
Sergeant Glen Robson, of Operation Dragoon, said: “This law change has been in place for more than a year now but motorists are still willing to risk using their phone whilst driving.
“Statistics actually show that people are not using their phones to text or call but are instead updating social media channels.
"We have also seen more people using live streaming apps whilst driving as well as taking part in social media challenges.
"This may seem like harmless fun but there have been too many cases of serious or fatal collisions as a result of this type of behaviour. That is no laughing matter.
"We will be out in Force this week to target those who commit this type of offence and people need to know it is not acceptable.
"Is updating your Instagram page really worth six points and a £200 fine? If you answer yes to that question then you don't belong on the road.”
As part of the week of action, Northumbria Police will be:-
- Targeting irresponsible and dangerous drivers in a bid to improve road safety.
- Draw drivers’ attention to the risks posed by being distracted by mobile phones while in control of a vehicle.
- Address the alarming rise in the number of people making calls, texting and recording videos illegally when they should be paying attention to the road.
- Highlighting to the public that illegal phone use whilst driving is as unacceptable as drink/drug driving or not wearing a seat belt.
This campaign is in support of the Police and Crime Commissioner Dame Vera Baird QC’s Police and Crime Plan.
Last month pupils at Carr Hill Community Primary School in Gateshead had designed posters for the local Neighbourhood Policing Team to support the campaign.
Officers had popped along to give a talk on driving safety when they were presented with an array of colourful posters. Police are now working with the local council to get some of the posters turned into road signs.
That reiterates a commitment to zero tolerance of mobile telephone use at the wheel, striving towards effective roads policing and improving road safety.