“Switch off before you drive off” – that is the message being given by North Wales Police’ Roads Policing Unit as they launch a two-week distraction campaign.
Officers from the specialist unit are teaming up with colleagues from across the force to launch a campaign targeting people who use their mobile phones whilst driving.
As well as imposing penalties on drivers who are caught, dedicated officers will also use the campaign as an opportunity to educate motorists of the dangers of distraction driving.
A motorist is distracted when they pay attention to a second activity whilst driving, which means they are more likely to fail to spot hazards.
‘Second activities’ can include talking on a mobile phone, texting, changing a CD or playing with your MP3 player, using sat nav equipment or even just using one or both hands to eat or drink.
Over the next two weeks roads policing crews across North Wales will be paying particular attention to any motorists they see not paying full attention to what is in front of them.
Police are keen to stress texting isn’t just about messages but can also involve responding to emails, social networking, inputting navigational data or using other applications.
Sergeant Alun Davies from North Wales Police’ Roads Policing Unit said: “Drivers who divide their attention because they’re on the phone or otherwise distracted are significantly increasing their risk of causing a crash.”
“Driving is a highly unpredictable and risky activity, it requires full concentration at all times. Distractions can include eating and drinking, smoking, music players and radios, sat navs and in-vehicle technology.”
“Along with drink driving, speeding, not wearing a seatbelt and driving carelessly, using a mobile phone behind the wheel, whether it be texting, using an app, or making a phone call is classed as one of the “Fatal 5”; the 5 most common causes of fatal road traffic collisions.
“With the increased use of smart phones we are also seeing drivers being distracted whilst accessing their apps, reading their emails or accessing the internet. Drivers need to be aware that these actions carry the same danger and the same penalty.”
During previous operations some of the reasons that drivers who were caught tried to use included: “I was updating my status on Facebook”, “I was checking the time” and “I was looking at my lap not the phone.”
Sergeant Davies added: “Driving a vehicle requires us to multi-task so anything above and beyond that needs to wait until we are safely parked up or until our journey has finished. Even the most experienced or competent of drivers can be easily distracted. A slight lapse in concentration can have serious consequences and this campaign will raise awareness about the issue and will hopefully lead to more drivers doing the right thing and obeying a law which is designed to keep them and other road users safe.”
Throughout the campaign police will be using social media to highlight the campaign messages using the hash tag #fatal5 and #eyesontheroad