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Driving phone users face double trouble

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By Fiona Reid
Annan and Eskdale
Driving phone users face double trouble

TOUGHER penalties on drivers using mobile phones could make Dumfries and Galloway roads safer.

That’s the hope of road safety activists in the region as a new campaign is launched.

Police Scotland are raising awareness of a new law which sees the doubling of penalties faced by drivers risking distraction by using an internet device or mobile phone.

Currently drivers spotted by police using a mobile phone are issued with three penalty points on their licence and a £100 fine.

But under the new UK-wide legislation, which comes into force on Wednesday March 1, the penalties double to six points and a £200 fine.

There have been accidents with tragic consequences in which mobile phone use has been a factor in south-west Scotland.

A Police Scotland spokesman said: “Any driver will be distracted by a phone call or text message as it affects the ability to concentrate and anticipate the road ahead, putting the driver and other road users at risk.

“Distraction reduces hazard perception and increases reaction times in a similar way to drink-driving, making drivers much more likely to cause deaths and injuries.

“Drivers who think they can multi-task are fooling themselves.  Research shows 98 per cent are unable to divide their time without it affecting performance.”

He pointed out that talking on a phone hand-held or hands free, texting, emailing, adjusting sat navs, eating, drinking and smoking are also all proven to increase accident risks.

Dumfriesshire constituency MSP Oliver Mundell is backing the crackdown.

He said: “Using a mobile phone while driving is extremely dangerous and I would hope these increased punishments would deter motorists from feeling the need to use their phone at the wheel.

“While mobile phones are now essential for people in times of emergency and keeping in touch, your focus as a motorist should only be on the road.”

Mr Mundell added: “This is an important measure to try to improve safety and I hope that in Dumfriesshire we won’t see people caught using their phones on our roads.”

 

NEWSDESK: 01461-202417

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