'Lack of enforcement' tackling South Yorkshire motorists driving while on phone

A driver using their mobile phone.
A driver using their mobile phone.

South Yorkshire motorists are getting away with driving illegally while on their phones because police are not doing enough to enforce tougher new penalties, a charity has claimed.

From March 1 this year, penalties for motorists using a mobile handset illegally while driving were doubled to a £200 fine and six penalty points.

New figures reveal that while South Yorkshire Police prosecuted 60 drivers in March as part of a nationwide crackdown by June the figure had dropped to just 11.

Road safety charity Brake said the initial enforcement had 'lost momentum' and called on South Yorkshire Police to re-focus their efforts on clamping down on illegal drivers.

Jason Wakeford, director of campaigns for Brake, said: "Illegal mobile phone use at the wheel is a growing menace to road safety. Given the scale of the problem, the fact that so few drivers have received points is deeply troubling.

"Sustained enforcement of the new laws on illegal mobile phone use are critical to act as a deterrent to the increasing menace of phone use on our roads.

"There has been an unacceptable rise in the number of people killed and seriously injured on the roads and enforcement plays a crucial part in improving safety.

"The reduction in the numbers of those penalised suggest that the initial crackdown may have lost momentum. It's essential that a clear message is sent to drivers who flout the law that they will be caught and punished.”

The figures, obtained by the charity from the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency, show South Yorkshire Police took action to enforce the new laws on 110 occasions between March and June.

The force was the 25th highest in terms of enforcement out of 99 police forces listed across England, Scotland and Wales.

Nationally, 10, 428 drivers in England, Scotland and Wales received six penalty points for illegal mobile phone use in the same four-month period.

Although 5, 258 drivers got points in March, the numbers receiving points in June had plummeted to 1, 387.

South Yorkshire Police has been contacted for comment and we are awaiting a reply.

Table

Number of drivers prosecuted in South Yorkshire for 'breach of requirements as to control of the vehicle, such as using a mobile phone'.

March - 60

April - 16

May - 23

June - 11

Total - 110