Thousands caught using mobiles behind the wheel in NW

Driving and talking
Driving and talking

Police in the old G District of Londonderry, Limavady and Strabane caught thousands of reckless idiots talking on mobile phones whilst driving on local roads in the three years prior to the establishment of the new North West policing district earlier this year.

Between 2012 and 2014 more mindless drivers were charged and cautioned here for talking on their handsets behind the wheel than in any other district in Northern Ireland.

Over three thousand people were handed Fixed Penalty Notices (FPN) for using their phones whilst driving.

That’s higher than anywhere but the old E District in Armagh.

It demonstrates the North West was the worst for offending or, alternatively, that police in the area were the best at detecting offences, in the whole of Northern Ireland.

To start with the FPNs issued for “using hand-held mobile phones” there were 1,048 in 2012, 1,149 in 2013, and 895 in 2014.

Whilst in E District there were even more, no other District came close to matching the G District record.

In 2012 G District accounted for 19 per cent, in 2013 24 per cent, and in 2014 18 per cent of the province-wide total.

The figures for cautions issued for driving whilst talking on the phone show that hardly anyone here was cautioned in 2012 or 2014 but that there appears to have been a drive to clampdown on the phenomenon in 2013.

Although there were only one and two cautions in the former years respectively, there were 13 in 2013.

Sixty-eight per cent of the total number of cautions issued by police for driving whilst on the phone were handed out in the North West.

A similar but less pronounced pattern emerges when it comes to the number of people charged.

Seven were charged in 2012, 10 in 2013 and three in 2014.

This was a far higher amount than anywhere else apart from E District, which like here, either had a higher prevalence or a higher detection rate.

Forty-three per cent of charges arising in 2013 were levelled here.

Just a few weeks ago this paper reported how idiots were spotted shaving and doing their make-up while driving up the main carriageway and motorway from Londonderry to Belfast.

Environment Minister Mark H. Durkan recently signed off on an advertising campaign to discourage drivers from using their mobiles on the road.

He told the Stormont Environment Committee: “There will also be one on mobile phone usage by drivers. That is an issue which, I believe, there has not been enough focus on in the past. It is certainly something that I am looking at.”