11 July 2017

British Police Ask For Public to Provide Dash Cam Footage to Identify Car and Truck Drivers on Phone  

Week Long Operation Aims at Hitting Dangerous Distraction

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Shipping News Feature UK – The Handy Shipping Guide has reported in the past on British police officers calling for truck drivers to be sacked if using their phones whilst behind the wheel and about how some foreign Police forces actively request dash cam footage from the public to help them prosecute road users who are breaking the law. Now the trend has reached the UK in an attempt to curb accidents caused by drivers distracted by their phones, whether calling, texting or even watching videos.

Operation Ringtone, which was launched this week (10 July – 16 July) by Suffolk and Norfolk Police, sees officers patrolling the roads with marked and unmarked cars and motorcycles, all fitted with cameras to obtain evidence to help secure successful prosecutions. The forces have also placed a new reporting form on their websites for members of the public to submit footage extracted from their own on board cameras. Chief Inspector Kris Barnard, head of the Norfolk and Suffolk Roads Policing and Firearms Operations Unit, said:

"We all witness it, momentary glances looking down at a phone or the more blatant offender seen holding and talking on their phone. The key thing to remember here is that while you’re behind the wheel you are in charge of a machine, a machine which can seriously injure and even kill people if you’re not in proper control.

"If you take your eyes off the road for just three seconds when doing 70mph you will travel further than the length of a football pitch. Ask yourself, what could happen in that time?

"We are doing everything within our power to stop offenders and hopefully prevent serious or fatal collisions. However, with the help of the public, submitting footage and supporting our investigations, we will be able to hold more lawbreakers to account.”

Though many people will have reservations about reporting others to the Police, with mutterings of ‘Big Brother’ already ringing privacy alarms, the release by the Police of footage of people being distracted whilst on their phones, noticeably this gem of someone watching a football match whilst driving, demonstrate that some people, quite simply, definitely need to be held to account.

Drivers found on their phones, which includes using it as a satnav and not having it anchored for use as such, now get six points on their licence and a £200 fine following the introduction of stricter penalties in March this year.

In the US Ray LaHood, the then Secretary of Transport, always advocated the very toughest penalties, particularly for truckers caught texting, citing some of the horrible results of a crime which can easily be avoided but the object now, as expressed by the British police, is to make the use of a cell phone, which is not hands free, as socially unacceptable as driving whilst drunk or under the influence of drugs.

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