Rush-hour police crack down on drivers using mobile phones in Derby
RUSH-HOUR drivers who use their mobile phones while behind the wheel have been targeted by police.
Officers from the force's roads unit were issuing fines to those spotted flouting the law in Agard Street, Derby, during the early-morning clampdown.
An undercover "spotter" was catching people using their mobiles while driving and then radioing to colleagues further down the route, who were pulling them over.
One driver who was issued with a £60 fine and handed three points on his driving licence during yesterday's operation was scaffolder Ben Varley.
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The 27-year-old, of Spondon, was delivering to a building site only 100 yards away from where he was pulled over for using his mobile phone.
He said: "I was caught fair and square – I have no complaints.
"My girlfriend called me to say she was struggling to get to university and I very foolishly picked up the phone.
"This is the first time I have been stopped by the police for using a mobile phone while driving and I've definitely learned my lesson."
Operation Lifeguard, launched this week, will target what police term "the fatal four" – referring to the most significant factors which contribute to collisions.
These are driving while under the influence of drink or drugs, driving while using a mobile phone, not wearing a seatbelt and speeding.
Inspector Benny Goodman headed yesterday's operation in Derby.
He said: "Nationally 1,905 people died on the country's roads last year and in Derbyshire that figure was 39.
"So far this year, that number stands at 19, which is a great reduction and in some ways down to the work we are doing to educate motorists of the dangers of the fatal four.
"If we can reduce the number of collisions, then we reduce the number of people killed or seriously injured on the roads.
"This week's series of events is as much to do with that education as it is with enforcement.
"But, at the same time, we will take a zero tolerance approach during Operation Lifeguard to anyone caught committing any of the fatal four."
PC Andy Wright was one of the officers handing out fines at yesterday's operation in Agard Street, which took place from 7.45am to 9.30am.
He said: "You could see when people were being pulled over they were thinking to themselves, 'Oh no, I've been caught'.
"They use excuses such as, 'I was just taking a quick call' or 'I was only on the phone a few seconds' – but that won't wash, I'm afraid.
"Too many collisions happen on the roads as a consequence of people using their mobile phones and this operation will target those who do it."
Officers will be across the county from this week targeting those caught breaking driving laws.
Tomorrow, police officers will be at the East Midlands Designer Outlet, off junction 28 of the M1, offering advice on winter driving and road-worthiness of vehicles.