Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Motorists Refusing to Get off the Phone

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Motorists Refusing to Get off the Phone

Article excerpt

Byline: By Liz Hands

Drivers in the North-East are continuing to flout mobile phone laws ( despite repeated warnings they are putting lives at risk.

More than two-and-a-half thousand motorists were caught using their handset while at the wheel since the ban was introduced, according to shocking figures released today.

Their behaviour was labelled "selfish" by a widow whose husband was killed by a motorist driving while on his phone.

Experts believe drivers ignore warnings because they escape with just a pounds 30 fine if they are caught.

But now tough new measures by the Government will see danger drivers given penalty points and face losing their licence.

Tomorrow marks a year since the

* egislation to ban the use of mobile phones while driving came into force.

But figures for the 10 months from December 1, 2003, show 2,546 fixed penalty notices have been served on people breaking the law.

The figures, published by Northumbria, Durham, Cleveland and Cumbria police forces, come as road safety minister David Jamieson published a raft of measures in a road safety Bill to clamp down on danger drivers.

The tough stance ( which will make the offence of driving while using a mobile phone endorsable and double the fine from pounds 30 to pounds 60 ( comes after County Durham pensioner Derek Davies was killed in a head-on crash with a delivery driver who was talking on his mobile phone.

Yesterday, his widow Gill described drivers continuing to use their phones as "selfish," saying she knew all too well the potential hazard they were causing.

AA spokeswoman Denise Raven said she hoped the possibility of losing their driving licence would finally make motorists take the law seriously.

"What the law did last year was clarify what people already knew. I think drivers were already aware it was dangerous to drive while using a mobile. That's why when a police car went by, they would hide the phone.

"The court case in Newcastle after Mr Davies was killed made that all too tragically apparent and the legislation made the issue completely black-and-white. …

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