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New law change means £200 fine and 6 points for ANY use of hand-held mobile phones at the wheel

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Prosecution regulations have been tightened on the use of hand-held mobile phones at the wheel.

Police will soon be able to more easily prosecute drivers using a hand-held mobile phone at the wheel after the government strengthens existing laws to further improve road safety.

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It is already illegal to text or make a phone call (other than in an emergency) using a hand-held device while driving. Next year, laws will go further to ban drivers from using their phones to take photos or videos, scroll through playlists or play games.

This will mean anyone caught using their hand-held device while driving will face a £200 fixed penalty notice and 6 points on their licence.

Drivers will still be able to continue using a device ‘hands-free’ while driving, such as a sat-nav, if it’s secured in a cradle. They must, however, always take responsibility for their driving and can be charged with an offence if the police find them not to be in proper control of their vehicle.

UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “Too many deaths and injuries occur while mobile phones are being held.

“By making it easier to prosecute people illegally using their phone at the wheel, we are ensuring the law is brought into the 21st century while further protecting all road users.

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“While our roads remain among the safest in the world, we will continue working tirelessly to make them safer, including through our award-winning THINK! campaign, which challenges social norms among high-risk drivers.

“This follows a public consultation that found 81% of respondents supported proposals to strengthen the law and make it easier for culprits to be prosecuted.

“Following the public consultation, the government will revise The Highway Code to explain the new measures. It will also be more precise about the fact that being stationary in traffic counts as driving, making it clear that hand-held mobile phone use at traffic lights or in motorway jams is illegal except in very limited circumstances.

“There will be an exemption to the new law for drivers making a contactless payment using their mobile phone while stationary to ensure the law keeps pace with technology.

“This exemption will cover, for example, places like a drive-through restaurant or a road toll, and will only apply when payment is being made with a card reader. It will not allow motorists to make general online payments while driving.”

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Mary Williams OBE, Chief Executive of Brake – the road safety charity, said: “Driver distraction can be deadly and using a hand-held phone at the wheel is never worth the risk. This important road safety decision by government, coinciding with Road Safety Week, is very welcomed.

“This news is particularly welcomed by families suffering bereavement and catastrophic injury due to drivers being distracted by phones. The theme for Road Safety Week is road safety heroes – we can all be road safety heroes by giving driving our full attention.”

Edmund King, President of the AA said: “By making mobile phone use as socially unacceptable as drink-driving, we are taking big steps to make our roads safer. For years, the AA has campaigned hard and helped educate drivers to the dangers from bad mobile phone use.

“To help ensure drivers get the message, we also need more cops in cars to help catch and deter those still tempted to pick up.”

Simon Williams from the RAC said: “As our phones have become more sophisticated, the law has not kept pace and this has allowed some drivers who have been using their handheld phones for purposes other than communicating to exploit a loophole and avoid the maximum penalty.

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“While today’s announcement is clearly good news, it’s absolutely vital that the new law is vigorously enforced otherwise there’s a risk that it won’t deliver the sort of behaviour change that will make our roads safer.”

The Department for Transport has also today published a study by Ipsos Mori about drivers who use mobile phones while driving.

Among other findings, the research reveals younger motorists are more likely to have used a handheld device at the wheel, supporting the focus of the government’s award-winning THINK! campaign, which works to boost road safety by targeting higher-risk, younger motorists and road-users.

(Lead image: Roman Pohorecki on Pexels.com)

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Education

“Stuck in a catch-22”: parents drive their children to school because they are concerned about traffic

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New polling data released for Living Streets’ Walk to School Week (16-20 May 2022) finds that traffic is one of the biggest barriers to children walking to school, with 17 per cent of parents in Wales naming it as a reason their child doesn’t walk.

With over 460,000 pupils in Wales, it would mean tens of thousands of them are being denied the physical and social health benefits of being more active.

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Schools being too far away from home (18%) and cars parked on pavements (17%) were also barriers for Welsh parents.

The latest data suggests just 50 per cent of primary school aged children in Wales walk to school.

Stephen Edwards, Chief Executive, Living Streets said: “We’re stuck in a catch-22 where families see driving to school as the safest way to protect their children from traffic.

“Leaving the car at home will reduce chaos and road danger around the school gates. It’s also a great way for children to learn about road safety in a real life setting and build their confidence in managing risk.

“Walk to School Week is an excellent opportunity for families to give walking to school a go and reap the health and social benefits of moving more.”

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Living Streets works with schools, local authorities and parent groups to help improve the walk to school.

Stephen Edwards continues: “We want to enable as well as encourage more families to walk to school. We’re here to help parents who are worried about safety around their child’s school. Car-free zones, 20mph limits and better crossings can all help make the walk to school safer and we’re here to help people campaign for them in their area.”

For more information on Living Streets’ walk to school campaign, visit livingstreets.org.uk/WalkToSchool

(Lead image: Shutterstock)

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Dyfed Powys Police

Man banned from driving for 12 months for fishing offence

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A man from Merthyr Tydfil who travelled to the River Loughor, near Llanelli to fish using a barbaric and illegal method, has been banned from driving for 12 months as part of his sentence.

Vu Quang Tien pleaded guilty to an illegal fishing charge and also to a charge of obstruction of a Natural Resources Wales (NRW) Fisheries Enforcement Officer on 26 April at Swansea Magistrates Court.

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Mr Tien and two other anglers were witnessed by NRW Fisheries Enforcement Officers deliberately using the illegal foul hooking method of fishing – also known as snatching – at the river Loughor on 15 August 2021. NRW officers attended the site after several reports of illegal fishing were made to NRW’s 24/7 incident call centre by concerned members of the community.

When approached and questioned by NRW officers, Mr Tien and his accomplices showed significant hostility and reluctance to share identification documents which eventually had to be extracted by use of reasonable force.

All of Mr Tien’s fishing tackle and fish, along with his associates’ fishing tackle was seized by NRW Officers at the time of the incident. The district judge on the day at Swansea Magistrates Court gave permission to NRW to confiscate these items permanently from each of them.

The District Judge disqualified Mr Tien from driving for 12 months due to seriousness of the incident, and the premeditated and deliberate action of travelling such a distance to commit the offence.

He was also ordered to pay a total of £2,334 in fines, NRW costs and a victim surcharge.

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Mark Thomas, Fisheries Enforcement Officer for NRW, said: “We would like to again thank Dyfed Powys Police, the local communities and also the law-abiding anglers in the area for their continued support in reporting these illegal fishing activities.

“Foul hooking is a truly barbaric form of fishing carried out by a small minority of anglers in Wales, who have no regard for fish welfare.

“NRW and the Police take these incidents seriously as do the courts.

“Hopefully, the small minority of anglers who may in future, think of using any illegal fishing methods will take heed of the heavy fines and driving ban in this case issued by the courts.”

(Lead image: Natural Resources Wales)

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Motoring

Revealed: Swansea is one of the UK’s worst cities for road rage – although not as bad as Cardiff

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Swansea has been revealed as the 9th worst place in England and Wales for road rage according to new research.

The city saw 51 instances of recorded road rage in the last year.

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The Road Rage Index, was compiled by specialist car group Motorfinity, which sent Freedom of Information requests to police forces across the country.

Drivers in Swansea also had 15 cases of dangerous driving.

Cardiff topped the list, with 301 instances of drivers ranting at other road users in the city, followed by Leicester at 291.

A combined figure of 240 incidents puts Birmingham, Coventry and Wolverhampton in third place.

Meanwhile, both Lancaster and Preston had 191 reports of road rage between them that attracted the attention of police, while Leeds had 108.

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Police forces for Birmingham, Coventry and Wolverhampton, and Lancaster and Preston were only able to provide the data when grouped with the other cities.

With 32 million motorists vying for space on British roads, it’s little surprise that things get heated. In fact, it’s claimed that more than half of the UK’s drivers admit to sometimes suffering from road rage whilst they’re driving.

Top 10 cities with the most road rage incidents

CityRoad rage incidents in 2021
1Cardiff301
2Leicester291
3Birmingham, Coventry, Wolverhampton (combined)240
4Lancaster and Preston (combined)191
5Leeds108
6Sheffield79
7Bradford68
8Derby51
9Swansea51
10Hull49

As part of the research, Motorfinity also asked police forces for the number of counts of dangerous driving incidents, of which the city of Oxford came first with 480 counts, followed by 363 for Bradford.

Top five cities with the most dangerous driving incidents

CityDangerous driving incidents in 2021
1Oxford480
2Bradford363
3Leeds321
4Birmingham, Coventry, Wolverhampton (combined)178
5Newport121

Motorfinity CEO Daniel Briggs believes that, although all the top 10 cities in the list are very busy urban areas, it doesn’t necessarily follow that more motorists means more anger.

He said: “The fact that the top few cities have so many more incidents than others suggests that drivers there may unknowingly copy each other’s bad behaviour. These results show that there are some clear hotspots when it comes to angry or impatient drivers.

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“It’s never ideal to be on the receiving end of road rage, but it’s also pretty unpleasant to be a regularly angry driver. Motoring should be an enjoyable experience, or at least one that people don’t dread.

“Given that road rage is generally considered commonplace, it’s likely that someone experiencing it has also been on the receiving end of another driver’s anger at some point. So, it’s worth remembering that a car door probably doesn’t insulate your emotions as much as you first think.”

It has been previously said that more than half of the UK’s drivers admit to regularly being angry at other motorists while they’re driving.

(Lead image: iStock)

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