Bus and HGV drivers targeted in mobile campaign

LOTHIAN and Borders Police have joined forces with their peers nationwide and Scotland’s Traffic Commissioner to clamp down on the use of mobile phones by bus and lorry drivers when they’re behind the wheel with a police spokesperson stating “there is no excuse”.

A clear link has been established between the use of mobile phones and other communication devices whilst driving and serious road crashes which cause serious injury or even death on our roads and is therefore against the law.

Deputy Chief Constable Tom Ewing for the Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland and the Traffic Commissioner for Scotland Joan Aitken have signed a Memorandum of Understanding.

This formalises the process of Scottish Police Forces notifying the Traffic Commissioner for Scotland of details of mobile phone offences committed by drivers of large goods vehicles and passenger carrying vehicles.

Scottish Police Forces will forward written notification at the time of the offence to the Traffic Commissioner.

The offences currently covered by the MOU are: use of hand held mobile phone or device while driving; use of hand held mobile phone or device while supervising a learner driver; not in proper control of a vehicle or having full a view ahead (This offence relates to drivers’ actions and can also be applied to use of a hands-free device where there is evidence that the driver does not have proper control of the vehicle).

With this notification, the Traffic Commissioner will give consideration to further action against the driver and/or the company which may include the suspension of a LGV or PCV licence.

Commenting on the campaign, a spokesperson for Lothian and Borders police said: “Driving whilst using a mobile phone has been an offence for several years now and there is no excuse. Our officers actively target drivers who still find it acceptable to use their phones, putting themselves and others at increased risk.

“The danger is increased when larger vehicles are involved so we welcome the announcement of the new campaign.”

DIscussing the punishments available to offenders, Traffic Commissioner Joan Aitken commented: “Police officers can issue a financial penalty. My powers are different. I can suspend a driver’s licence entitlement to drive his or her lorry or bus. For some drivers this will mean they lose their job and how they support their families. It is that serious. I also look at why the driver was on the phone. I want to get a message across to drivers’ families and friends and also to employers that the driver needs to concentrate on the job not on the phone.

“I hope that drivers will come to realise that the risk of mobile phone use is not worth taking. I don’t want to take professional drivers off the road or for them to lose their jobs or wages. I want them to drive safely.”