Drivers caught using mobile phones at the wheel face losing their licence as tough new penalties come into force, police have warned.
From Wednesday, new legislation comes into effect that means motorists who are caught using a mobile while driving will receive six points on their licence and a £200 fine, doubling the previous punishment.
In support of the tougher national stance, police will no longer offer education courses to drivers caught using their phone as an alternative to a fine and points.
Those caught will automatically be issued with a penalty notice or be reported to court, depending on the circumstances of the offence.
For new drivers, who qualified in the last two years, this could mean automatically losing their licence and having to re-apply before re-taking their driving test.
As part of a campaign to coincide with the changes, safety camera vans will be deployed to areas where complaints have been received and marked and unmarked police vehicles will be used to identify possible offenders.
Checkpoints with observation areas on the approach will be put in place across the county.
Chief Insp Damian Kitchen said: “Inattention and distraction are as big an issue to road safety as speed, seatbelt use and drink or drug driving. The consequences of even a moment’s distraction can be devastating and our message is: ‘it simply is not worth taking that call or sending that text’.
“Killing or seriously injuring someone just because you picked up your mobile phone will live with you forever, and destroy families. In addition you could go to prison, lose your job and your licence.
“Sadly too many motorists on our roads are taking the risk of using their mobile phone when driving.
“Whether it’s looking at a text or a new social media post, streaming a video behind the wheel, checking emails or making a phone call, all of these activities are very dangerous.”
He said he wanted to ‘refute’ the idea that the change was money-making scheme.
“We want all road users to be aware of the new legislation,” Ch Insp Kitchen added. “Police forces receive no revenue from the fines issued. I would urge anyone getting behind the wheel to think before picking up a mobile phone.
Police and crime commissioner Clive Grunshaw added: “The risks of using a mobile phone behind the wheel have always been very clear and if this new law results in making Lancashire’s roads safer then I completely back the change.”
“The dangers of using phones while driving have always been clear. If this new law results in making Lancashire’s roads safer then I completely back the change.”
More crime and police stories here