Nearly 1,000 drivers caught using mobile phones in Sheffield
Almost 1,000 drivers have been caught using their mobile phones or other devices at the wheel in Sheffield in the last three years, new figures show.
However, the number of motorists recorded committing the offence has fallen since 2017, a Freedom of Information request by The Star has revealed.
In just 10 months from March to December 2017, 414 motorists were caught putting their lives and those of other drivers at risk by using mobiles at the wheel, the statistics show.
That was significantly more than the 363 recorded in the whole of 2018 – and with 201 drivers caught in the first seven months of this year, that number is on course to drop again.
In total, from the beginning of March 2017 – the earliest date for which South Yorkshire Police was able to provide figures – to the end of July this year, 979 motorists have been caught using a handheld mobile phone or other device while driving on the city’s roads.
Of the drivers caught so far this year, 47 were prosecuted, 84 paid a fine or had their licence endorsed, 12 completed a motorist retraining course and in the remaining cases action was either ‘cancelled’ or ‘not completed’.
The busiest month for police was March 2017, when 91 drivers were caught in the act, while the most offences recorded in a single month so far this year has been 51 in May.
It’s not just mobile phones either, with police telling recently how some drivers in South Yorkshire had incredibly even been caught streaming TV shows on their tablets.
It’s unclear whether the drop in offences being recorded is down to drivers getting the message is down to motorists getting the message about how dangerous any distraction can be or due to police dedicating fewer resources to catching the culprits.
But South Yorkshire Police said preventing drivers from using mobile phones at the wheel remains a priority and it is investing in a dedicated road safety enforcement car.
The force’s roads policing inspector, Jason Booth, said: “In 2018 South Yorkshire Police continued its re-organisation around roads policing after a previous joint operation with Humberside, and this has included recruiting into previously vacant staff posts, which saw four additional officers join our team in April 2019.
“Demands on the Police service against a backdrop of demands has seen challenges to roads policing in the county around enforcement, but measures are currently being developed to increase visibility by a dedicated road safety enforcement car through our new Operation Illuminate.
“Using mobile phones whilst driving offences forms part of our enforcement and a recent survey suggests that the public in South Yorkshire feel strongly about the issue and we understand this.
“The survey also identified other areas which South Yorkshire felt strongly around and Roads Policing enforcement and education needs to work across many different areas including drink and drug driving and speeding. We will continue to work with our partners at the Safer Roads Partnership to increase awareness around these dangers and the consequences.”
South Yorkshire Police are again asking the public’s views on what its traffic officers’ priorities should be, and you can have your say here.