While I'm not a huge fan of speed cameras, I believe 'inappropriate' speed is more of a factor in a lot of accidents than 'speed' itself, I'm actually pleased to see this news report.. Every single day I see people driving while on their mobiles, eating, even putting on makeup on one occasion and it's about bl00dy time that people who are doing these kinds of things are targetted..
SPEED camera footage will be used to step up the war on motorists using mobile ‘phones while driving. Around 3,000 North Wales motorists a year are slapped with £60 fixed penalty notices for putting lives at risk and driving whilst using their mobiles. But most were caught by officers using hand held cameras, which means police have to track back through hours of footage to find evidence.
Now Arrive Alive bosses want to catch more people by using speed camera footage to hunt down drivers flouting the law. A senior traffic officer revealed the All Wales Safety Camera Partnership is preparing to upgrade their computers to search through footage for images of people using their phones.
The technology can also be used to prosecute drivers breaking other laws – like texting, sending emails, eating and smoking behind the wheel. Anyone involved in an accident will also be asked if they have a mobile, and police will check any footage to see if their phone was used while the owner was driving.
It comes after a Freedom of Information request to North Wales Police revealed more than 9,000 drivers were caught flouting mobile phone laws in the last three years.
In 2004/5 there were 1077 fixed penalty notices issued, and this increased to 2035 in 2005/6.
By 2006/7 it increased to 3038; in 2007/8 it was 2996 and for 2008/9 it was 2999.
Asked whether the safety message was not getting through, NWP traffic department Superintendent Simon Shaw, said: “There is evidence that compliance rates are on the increase. What we are seeing is the result of continued efforts to put more and more resources into targeting this type of offence.”
But Supt Shaw said it was “worrying” to see so many notices issued, and said there was still a long way to go.
Mobile phone use is one of the “fatal five” causes of fatal and serious accidents – the others are: speed, drink driving, failure to wear seat belts, and careless driving.
“There is evidence that unlike drink driving it is yet to catch the public imagination: there is still a huge amount to be done, said Supt Shaw. “The difficulty is when a police officer in a traffic or patrol car looks to stop someone for using a mobile phone they have to stop them and issue a notice which takes time. With a camera you can detect the offence, photograph it and continue with the deployment on the roadside, detecting other offences.”
In recent years North Wales has seen some camera shockers – Dutch lorry driver Martin Veens was jailed for eight weeks for eating spaghetti from a saucepan while driving through North Wales in 2007. And Donna Maddock, 22, from Mold, was fined £200 after she was caught on camera putting on her make-up while doing 32mph.
Last year North Wales Police hired nine hi-tech cameras, costing £17,750 each, with instant playback, which makes it easier to zoom in and capture motorists’ faces as they drive. Arrive Alive has 10 vans operating throughout North Wales.
Last weekend alone one operator spotted 33 offences other than speeding – two motorists using mobiles and numerous drivers without seat belts.
Supt Shaw said the safety camera partnership in Wales – made up of police forces, local authorities and the Assembly Government – are looking into whether the software used to sort out pictures and issue notices can deal with tickets for other offences, such as using a mobile or eating while driving, in the same way as speeding tickets.
He added that faster processing will also release officers from admin duties and allow them back on the road.
Northumbria, Kent and Hampshire Safety Camera Partnerships have already introduced the new system.
Research shows using a mobile while driving creates driving impairment equal to drink driving and increases collision chances fourfold.