Police across Cleveland and Durham are getting set to take part in a national a crackdown on drivers using their mobile phones.
The week of action will kick off on Monday, January 22 - ten months after the introduction of new legislation which means that drivers using a phone whilst at the wheel will receive six points on their licences and a £200 fine.
Since the introduction of the new laws on March 1, 2017, officers across Cleveland and Durham issued 454 tickets, compared to 698 tickets issued during the same period in 2016.
The tickets were issued for offences of using a mobile phone whilst driving, a supervisor of a provisional licence holder using a mobile phone and the driver not being in proper control of a vehicle.
Throughout the campaign, patrols will be dedicated to identifying and educating those risking their lives and the lives of other innocent road users by committing these offences.
Research has found that being distracted by a phone while driving, regardless of whether it is being used to make calls, messages or going online can make a driver up to 25 times more likely to be involved in a collision.
Chief Inspector Graham Milne, from the Cleveland and Durham Specialist Operations Unit, said: “Calling, texting, using social media or recording videos from phones whilst driving are all examples of offences we have dealt with and these actions do put innocent road users lives at serious risk.
“It is worrying that whilst the figures have dropped this year, some drivers are still willing to use a mobile phone whilst driving, despite the increased penalties brought in last year.
“This type of offence carries as much risk as driving whilst intoxicated by drink or drugs or not wearing a seatbelt and it should be just as socially unacceptable.
“Drivers need to pay full attention to the road whilst they’re in charge of their vehicle and they should not take the risk with their own lives, or the lives of other road users.
"Being distracted at the wheel is one of the four main contributory factors in fatal or serious road traffic collisions.”
Cleveland and Durham’s Special Constabularies will support the campaign and provide valuable assistance throughout.
Police and Crime Commissioner for Cleveland, Barry Coppinger, said: “Driving whilst using a mobile phone is senseless.
"It puts people in serious danger of being injured or even killed.
"I fully support this campaign, which aims to keep motorists as safe as we possibly can.”
Durham’s Police, Crime and Victims’ Commissioner, Ron Hogg, said: “I’ve seen the consequences for families of the victims of collisions caused by people who were driving whilst on their mobile phones.
"It’s utterly devastating, and it’s so unnecessary.
"This is an important campaign and I am firmly behind it.”