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To mark the two year anniversary of the ‘no excuse’ project, enforcement activity took place at over 40 locations across Dorset on Wednesday 18th January 2012 – mostly targetting motorists committing mobile phone offences.
Activity took place at around 40 locations right across Dorset including Bournemouth, Poole, Shaftesbury, Bridport, Weymouth, Dorchester and Christchurch.
New ‘no excuse’ signs were displayed at all of the enforcement locations informing motorists: “Driver using phone? no excuse” and electronic Variable Message Signs displayed the same message at their locations across Dorset.
Police estimate that approximately 100 fixed penalty notices were issued for motoring offences across Dorset during the operation.
At a location in Poole, one enforcement team reported that between 9am and 11am they detected 24 motoring offences.
One offence was for faulty tyres, two were for not having insurance (both of these vehicles were seized), two for speeding, three for not having a valid MOT, seven for not wearing a seatbelt and nine offences of driving while using a mobile phone.
Officer issued tickets for mobile phone offences on Dorset’s roads have increased by 15% between 18 January and 14 December 2010 compared with the same period in 2011.
Brian Austin, ‘no excuse’ Project Manager, said:
"This operation shows just how seriously we take the offence of driving while using a mobile phone.
"Operating a mobile phone while driving is extremely dangerous and incredibly reckless, and it risks the lives of innocent road users.
"It is worrying and disappointing to see the number of drivers caught risking lives by operating a mobile phone while driving increased last year.
"I would encourage members of the public to provide us with details of people they have seen using their phones while driving.
"My message to motorists is simple – don’t use your mobile phone while driving.”
The ‘no excuse’ project was launched on 18 January 2010. During the first year of the campaign (from 18 January to 14 December 2010) a total of 15,506 motoring offences were detected. During the same period of time in 2011, a total of 13,864 offences were detected – a decrease of 10%.
Officer issued tickets for seatbelt offences dropped from 2,795 in 2010 to 1,887 in 2011. This equates to a 36% drop in motorists caught not wearing seatbelts.
Road casualty figures show there has been a 15.9% reduction in the number of people killed or seriously injured across the county comparing data from 2009 against data from 2011.
Pat Garrett, Head of Dorset Police’s Safety, Education and Enforcement Services and Chair of the Dorset Road Safe Tactical Group, said:
"The ‘no excuse’ campaign will continue with the full support of all partner organisations.
"We will continue to use targeted intelligence led operations, increased operations by Safer Neighbourhood Teams, increased signage, increased numbers and use of covert vehicles and new technologies as they become available.
"We will continue to carry out our work, both seen and unseen, across the whole of Dorset in our determination to drive down road casualties further. There is no excuse for bad or careless driving.”
Officers delivering the enforcement activity on Wednesday the 18th witnessed some particularly disappointing and dangerous driving offences.
Brian Austin said:
"A van driver was so interested by the activity at the scene of a collision that he drove past taking photos on his mobile phone, while keeping one hand on the steering wheel.
"Then, to the amazement of the officers about to follow him, he reached a roundabout and came back so he could take more photos.
"Bizarrely, officers at one of the sites in Dorchester were stunned to see a driver pass them while playing a harmonica using both hands.
"He was quickly caught by officers and claimed that he thought he was driving while playing the harmonica quite successfully.
"Another man parked his vehicle in an area reserved for officers conducting checks next to the ‘no excuse’ mobile phone sign.
"The driver proceeded to use his mobile phone and then drove off still using his phone in front of four officers in high visibility
"The man was completely shocked when an officer ran up and banged on his window to stop.
"Clearly surprised, he stated he had not seen any of the officers, and was not even aware that he had moved off, as he was so intent on his phone conversation.”
Dorset Road Safe says it's planning on using new laser cameras that not only detect speeding offences, but also detect distraction offences including driving while using a mobile phone.
Brian Austin continued:
"Procedures are being finalised and I hope the Concept lasers will soon be in use in Dorset as a tool against mobile phone, seatbelt and other distraction type offences.
"The Concept Laser II has a range of 400 meters and Dorset Road Safe currently has two of these systems which we are looking forward to using in our continued efforts to make Dorset’s roads safer.”