Hundreds still flout law

STAY SAFE: Don't use a handheld mobile phone while driving
STAY SAFE: Don't use a handheld mobile phone while driving

MORE than 500 Wigan motorists were caught using their mobile phone while driving last year.

Shaming new figures for police fixed penalty show 549 drivers were pulled over for texting or calling behind the wheel in 2011.

Encouragingly that is down from 720 in 2010 and 642 the year before. But across Greater Manchester, there were 44 collisions caused by mobile phone use in the last three years, including two fatal accidents.

And despite a series of crackdowns and warnings about the potential lethal dangers of using the phone while driving since it was outlawed in 2003, fines continue to stack up. These can see motorists’ receiving a £60 fine or face more serious charges.

The law states it is illegal to call, text or use the phone in anyway when operating a vehicle. This includes when the car is stationary at traffic lights, even with the handbrake on.

Karen Delaney, Greater Manchester Casualty Reduction Partnership said: “You’re reaction times when using a phone are around 50 per cent slower than normal driving.

“Drivers have no excuse for using hand-held mobile phones at the wheel–there have been enough warnings since the introduction of this law in 2007.

“Missing a call won’t kill anyone, but a collision may. The safest option is for people to switch phones off before driving. It is not worth risking your life and that of others”.

Police and firefighters launch have launched a campaign to reduce the amount of people who use phones while driving.

Coun David Molyneux who sits on Wigan’s road safety forum, said: “We have carried out a number of campaigns with the police to get the message over. We try to convince people that it is dangerous and can result in fatalities.

“The use of mobile phones has increased and the temptation for motorists to use them whilst driving is greater.

“But the simple message to people is unless you have a hands-free set you shouldn’t be using your phone while the car is in motion and you shouldn’t be surprised when your pulled over by police or lay in a bed in A and E.”