Drivers warned about mobile phone risk
Hertfordshire police have vowed to get tough with any motorist using a mobile phone while driving.
New laws come into force next month, making it an offence to use a hand-held phone, or similar device, when driving.
From December 1, motorist face a £30 fixed penalty, or fines of up to £1,000 if convicted in court. Drivers of buses, coaches, or goods vehicles face fines of up to £2,500.
Hertfordshire police say research shows that drivers are four time more likely to have accidents if they drive while using a mobile phone. Police say it affects the ability to concentrate and anticipate the road ahead.
The advice is to turn the mobile phone off at the start of each journey, or put on voicemail.
Police say the new offence applies if a phone has to be "held" while making or receiving a call. This includes holding a phone between your ear and shoulder, or using it to make or receive text messages. However Hertfordshire police say there is an exemption for calls to 999 (or 112) in genuine emergencies where it is unsafe or impractical to stop.
Police are also advising against the use of hands-free phones, saying they can also be distracting. Hertfordshire police say drivers using hands-free phones can still risk prosecution for failing to have proper control of a vehicle.
The new regulations apply to drivers of all motor vehicles on the road, including cars, motorcycles, goods vehicles, buses, coaches, and taxis.
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21 November 2003