Don’t let a phone call take an innocent life

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16 March 2017 9:47AM

WHEN driving a car at 60mph we cover 27 metres in just one second. That’s longer than the swimming pool at Hexham’s Wentworth Leisure Centre.

It might be a scary thought, but it’s one that Alan Nelson certainly hopes will get the attention of motorists across Tynedale.

Advanced driving instructor Alan is on a mission to persuade drivers not to use mobile phone devices while driving.

Penalties for using a phone at the wheel were doubled from March 1. Now anyone caught doing so will receive six points on their licence and a £200 fine.

If a motorist is caught twice, accruing 12 points in the process, they will automatically appear in court and face a fine of £1,000 and a driving ban of at least six months.

A hard-hitting advertising campaign has been launched as part of a Government crackdown on phone-related road accidents.

Retired traffic policeman Alan, who established Tynedale Advanced Driving in 2013, said: “Mobile phones are attention distractors for motorists, and a lack of attention costs lives.

“For every second you drive at 60mph, you are covering a distance of 27 metres, so that tells you the levels you have to concentrate at while driving.

“Do you really need to make the call, or answer if someone is calling you?

“If it’s that important you can always pull over and park responsibly before doing so.”

Alan said phone calls are just part of the problem, with modern drivers tempted by all forms of new technology.

He added: “I recently saw a man driving a lorry. He had the vehicle in cruise control with his feet on the dashboard and his laptop on his knee, and was watching a film.

“I saw a woman making a phone call with one hand, and she was doing her hair with the other. She was using her knees to steer the car.

“Cars have had radios for years, but that’s a distraction, especially when you start tuning or changing the songs.

“Cars have built-in bluetooth and on-board computer systems now, but while we have to embrace technology, we can’t afford to get distracted at the wheel.

“Sat navs are designed to help us, but even they are a distraction as they are taking our eyes away from the road.”

Alan believes that despite the tougher penalties, use of technology behind the wheel can only be reduced if motorists take responsibility for their own actions.

He added: “On the day these new penalties were introduced, I saw five people breaking the law by using mobile devices.

“People think they are not going to get caught because police patrols can’t be everywhere, so motorists should do their bit.”

Northumbria Police revealed that almost 500 mobile phone offences were detected last year.

Chief inspector Dave Guthrie, of the force’s operations department, said road safety was a top priority, and warned that offenders will be punished.

He said: “This change in legislation underlines how seriously the authorities are taking driving while using your mobile phone and we are firmly supportive of the change.

“We have all seen examples in the press of the devastation that can be caused when a driver is not concentrating on the road.

“Young drivers in particular think they can get away with playing on their phone, but all it takes is for them to not concentrate for a split second and they can be involved in a collision.

“We have one simple message for motorists – don’t be that person who is responsible for claiming an innocent life for the sake of a text message.”

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