OFFICERS from the Avon and Somerset Roads Policing team have been cracking down on drivers who use their mobile phones whilst behind the wheel.
In a two-week operation called Op Telecom, which finished on March 10, 81 offences were detected. 49 offences were recorded during the same period last year.
As well as carrying out visible patrols, the team used unmarked vehicles, officers in plain clothes and stationed officers at local hotspots to catch drivers committing the illegal act.
Chief inspector Robert Cheeseman, head of Roads Policing, said: "A driver using a handheld mobile phone or handsfree mobile phone is four times more likely to be involved in a collision than an undistracted driver.
"Within Avon and Somerset, 33 per cent of collisions in 2023 involved a driver that was distracted."
Using a phone whilst driving can have devastating consequences. On Tuesday, March 5, 
officers attending an eight-vehicle collision on the M4 went on to witness numerous incidents of drivers passing the scene using a handheld device. 
Police also noted an additional 32 traffic offences, which included drivers failing to wear a seatbelt and driving at excess speed.

 Ch. Insp. Cheeseman added: "Every life lost on our roads has a profound impact and the statistics we are currently seeing are simply unacceptable.
“In 2023, Avon and Somerset Police attended and investigated 54 fatal road traffic collisions, resulting in the tragic loss of 63 lives. Already in 2024, 11 lives have been lost in fatal collisions. 
“The majority of these can be attributed to one or more of the Fatal Five: drink and drug driving, excess speed, use of a mobile phone at the wheel, failure to wear a seatbelt, and careless driving. 
“There is an urgent need to address careless and dangerous driving behaviours."

Avon and Somerset Road Safety Unit has launched a new driver training initiative called Raise Your Drive, designed to educate younger drivers.

 Ch. Insp. Cheeseman concluded: "We can all play our part in shaping attitudes towards road safety and reducing reliance on mobile phones while driving.
“Avon and Somerset Police remain committed to promoting road safety and will continue to conduct operations targeting dangerous driving behaviours to ensure the safety of all road users.”