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11 January 2011, 13:18 | Updated: 12 January 2011, 11:10
Kent and Medway Safety Camera Partnership have released photos of drivers spotted breaking the law to warn others of the dangers.
Motorists right across the county who flout mobile phone and seat belt laws are being warned of the dangers in a new road safety campaign.
The crackdown comes as evidence emerges that irresponsible motorists are now even using their mobile phones to update social networking sites while driving.
Social networking service Twitter analysed messages or tweets posted over just one week – the results were shocking. One driver tweeted “I can't believe how bad my spelling was in my last tweet. A testiment (sic) to not tweeting whilst driving!” while another said “Tweeting whilst driving, watch out for PC plod.”
Warning boards are going up at every fixed yellow safety camera site in Kent and Medway to remind drivers that camera vans are enforcing mobile phone and seat belt laws as well as speed limits. It follows a recent survey among 1,000 Kent residents which showed that 35% did not know that camera vans have these powers.
Kent has 76 fixed safety cameras and 60 safety camera van sites and the brightly-coloured warning boards are being erected at the fixed sites during January, said Katherine Barrett of the Kent & Medway Safety Camera Partnership (KMSCP).
The Partnership is acting after a recent RAC report revealed that the number of drivers admitting to breaking the law by using their mobile phone without a hands-free kit while driving had more than trebled in a year*. KMSCP is also concerned by roadside surveys in Kent which have shown that one in 10 motorists were not wearing a seat belt.
“The penalty for not wearing a seat belt is a £60 fine and for being caught using a mobile phone while driving is a £60 fine and three penalty points on your licence, but the consequences of a crash can be much more devastating,” said Katherine Barrett.
“In the last three years there have been at least 46 crashes on the county’s roads involving someone using a mobile phone while at the wheel. Of these there were four fatalities, 10 serious injuries and 48 slight injuries.
“It’s worrying that people still don’t take seriously the dangers posed by using, in any way, a phone while driving. More and more people are using smart phone technology, so it’s not just ringing and texting that people are using their phones for – the RAC report said that one in five people (21%) admitted to accessing email, Facebook and Twitter while driving.
“Clearly, drivers do not think they will get caught, but that kind of attitude can lead to tragic and even fatal consequences. Using a mobile phone to make calls or text while driving is sheer madness.”
Safety cameras in Kent continue to play a vital role in reducing the number of deaths and injuries in road crashes. KMSCP figures show that, since their introduction, the number of people killed or seriously injured (KSI) at camera sites has dropped by 72%.
Camera vans are enforcing mobile phone, seat belt and speed offences at all 136 fixed and mobile camera sites in Kent. For more information about safety cameras and to find out where they are located, visit www.kmscp.org
Advice from Kent & Medway Saftey Camera Partnership
* It is an offence to use a mobile phone while a vehicle is stationary in a lay-by, traffic jam, traffic lights or at the side of the road, with the engine running.
* You are recommended to put your phone on silent, or even better turn it off while you are driving. That way you won’t be distracted by incoming calls and text messages. If you need to have your phone on then put it out of arm’s reach so you are not tempted to look at it. If you need to use it, pull over to a safe place and turn off the engine.