Another seven-day period of enforcement is also planned from Wednesday, March 1.
This week’s crackdown is part of a campaign being launched by the Sussex Safer Roads Partnership to raise awareness of the dangers of in-car distractions from your mobile phone.
The campaign It Can Wait also aims to remind drivers that nothing is more important than focussing on driving – and driving alone.
Drivers are urged to place their phone out of reach, or set it to silent, before setting off on a journey to ensure they are not distracted or tempted to pick it up while driving.
A press release from the safer roads partnership says driving while distracted is an increasing problem on Sussex roads with mobile phones now used to make calls, send messages, play music and check road conditions.
The two separate weeks of enforcement planned by Sussex Police are described as very much business as usual but giving police an opportunity to conduct visible patrols while focussing on a “very relevant subject”.
East Sussex and West Sussex Fire & Rescue Services will be supporting It Can Wait by focussing on prevention.
Firefighters will be out in the community raising awareness of the dangers of distracted driving to encourage all Sussex road users to put their phone out of reach when at the wheel.
Their messages combined with designated enforcement activities by the police are designed to reduce the number of people needlessly harmed or killed on roads due to distracted driving.
Sergeant Badman of Sussex Police’s Roads Policing Unit (RPU), says: “The law states that you can only use a hand-held mobile phone when you are the driver if you need to call 999 or 112.
“Other than that, you can only use a hand-held device if you are safely parked.
“You cannot use it when you are stopped at traffic lights or queueing in traffic. These laws are set to keep people safe and alive on the roads.
“Working in RPU, I have seen far too many incidents where drivers were distracted by their phones – and it’s not worth it. Checking a text seems so insignificant – both at the time, but also once you’ve crashed, and lives have been changed.”
The current campaign is running in anticipation of expected changes to the consequences of using your phone whilst driving.
Fine and penalty points
Currently, penalties include a £100 fine and three points on your driving licence. In 2016, the government conducted a consultation with the public and the partnerships says the “results were greatly encouraging for safety”.
It is anticipated the penalties will rise to £200 and six points in early March 2017, although this is yet to be confirmed.
This is of particular note to newly qualified drivers; if you acquire six points on your licence within two years of obtaining your full one, you will lose it.
Turn your phone off
The partnership press release says: “We are calling on members of the public to back this campaign. You can get involved by sharing our social media posts, encouraging friends and family to put their phones down, turn your own phone off or onto silent when driving, and report other drivers using their mobiles to Operation Crackdown.
“Nothing is so important on your phone that it can’t wait until you’ve got to your destination.”
Sussex Safer Roads is a partnership led by Sussex Police, and includes East Sussex Fire & Rescue Service, West Sussex Fire & Rescue Service, East Sussex County Council, West Sussex County Council, Brighton & Hove City Council and Highways England.
Find local businesses in our Uckfield Directory