Police are cracking down on danger drivers using their mobile phone while behind the wheel.
Officers from the Cleveland and Durham Specialist Operations Unit (CDSOU) will be supporting a national campaign co-ordinated by the National Police Chiefs Council from Monday.
There are clearly some people who feel the law doesn’t apply to them. But over the next week they will discover our officers are making this offence a priority and we have a zero-tolerance approach.Insp Harry Simpson
Across the two force areas, 720 drivers were convicted of using their mobile phones last year, and a further 67 were found not to be in proper control of their vehicle.
The offence currently carries a £100 fine and three penalty points, potentially rising to disqualification and a maximum fine of £1,000 if the case goes to court. Drivers of buses or goods vehicles could get a maximum fine of £2,500.
The penalties will increase to six points and a £200 fine in March.
Insp Harry Simpson from the CDSOU, said: “We will have a number of officers dedicated to this campaign across the week, using unmarked as well as marked police cars.
“Over the years there have been plenty of educational campaigns, so no-one can claim to be unaware this is against the law and also incredibly dangerous.
“There are clearly some people who feel the law doesn’t apply to them. But over the next week they will discover our officers are making this offence a priority and we have a zero-tolerance approach.”
Research has found being distracted by a phone while driving can make a driver up to 25 times more likely to be involved in a collision.
The national campaign is also highlighting the dangers of pedestrians and cyclists being distracted while using the roads.