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Lincolnshire motorists caught using mobile phones could escape points

By Lincolnshire Echo  |  Posted: August 17, 2011

DRIVING FORCE: Greville Burgess, of Lincolnshire Road Safety Partnership, is advocating a scheme where drivers caught driving while on the phone will be offered the chance to go on an educational course instead of getting points on their licence.

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MOTORISTS caught using handheld mobile phones in Lincolnshire could escape conviction.

In lieu of a £60 fine and three points, offenders will be given the chance to stump up about £80 to attend a What's Driving You? course.

And the money raised by Lincolnshire Road Safety Partnership will go back into road safety campaigns.

Principal road safety coordinator Greville Burgess said the emphasis on education could save lives.

He said: "This way, you don't get the points, so you don't have a conviction and your insurance does not go up.

"The evidence from other diversionary courses is very positive in that nationally less than 1 per cent re-offend within three years of completing the course. This strongly suggests that education rather than simple penalty points and a fine is more effective."

What's Driving You? also covers failing to wear seat belts, careless driving outside of a collision and traffic signal offences.

A second more expensive course is due to be launched later this year.

Drive4Change will be a practical assessed drive for what police deem to have been deliberate offenders.

Figures supplied by Lincolnshire Police show 1,949 motorists were each fined £60 for mobile phone offences in 2009, compared with 1,834 last year. The cash goes to the Treasury.

Lincolnshire Road Safety Partnership already runs speed awareness workshops for which speeders pay £85 and the income generated is spent on operating and maintaining the county's speed cameras.

The partnership aims to replace £1.4 million that was formerly provided in Government grants with revenue from the speed workshops.

Surpluses go into subsidies for mature and young driver training courses.

But Keith Peat, Lincolnshire co-ordinator for the Association of British Drivers, said: "This is just another example of the road safety industry being less interested in what actually kills providing they can sell courses."

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  • M_C_Donald  |  August 19 2011, 3:08PM

    A few years ago I was caught doing 35 in a 30 zone. I opted for the Motoring Awareness Course at a cost of £60 instead of the £60 fine (at the time) and three points. The course was held on a Saturday and ran from 10am to about 3 or 4pm. It made me more aware of my speed especially in built up areas and to this day I still keep to the speed limit. I might of not of had points on my licence, but I was 'fined' £60 and lost half of my day off. If that results in people like me being made aware of the potential consequences of their driving and modifying their driving accordingly surely this is the overall aim of system and society in general. BigSpender100 - You seem to indicate from you comments that just because you drive a car you think you should be are exempt from sticking to any rule or regulation. So if the speed limit is 50 mph you should be able to do 70 mph with impunity. To me this is no different from stealing something from a shop just because you want it. If you don't want to 'fund' a network of digital speed cameras, don't speed. It isn't rocket science.

  • BigSpender100  |  August 19 2011, 12:49PM

    I think I see how this works. When drivers opt for the £80 course, the police obviously get a little less paperwork to do and the courts get to deal with more serious criminal cases, which so far makes sense. However, I'm concerned by the line 'the cash will go back into road safety campaigns', plural. I'm guessing that this is the way LRSP intends to raise the funds for its network of digital speed cameras, to further punish those horrible criminals who dare to go 70mph on an A-road where there has never been an accident!

  • pinnerkid  |  August 19 2011, 8:38AM

    Can somebody please tell me whay it is safe for a police officer to drive one-handed and talk on his radio, but anybody using a mobile phone is a safety hazard?

  • Gnome_Chomsky  |  August 18 2011, 10:47PM

    Disturbingly, I actually agree with some of Sedgepeat's comments - a first! Allowing drivers to buy their way out of bans does nothing to promote road safety and simply reinforces the idea that justice is different for rich and poor. Am I the only one, though, to think that both Keith's and Greville's posts exhibit a strain of narcissism, and a concern with protecting their personal position?

  • grevburg  |  August 17 2011, 5:26PM

    By Greville Burgess I had mixed emotions after reading Keith Peat's comments (Sedgepeat) about retraining courses for drivers. I initially smiled at his personal attack on me as it confirmed a longstanding view that if you have lost the argument then revert to personal attacks on those who appose your point of view. Then I was saddened, not by his personal attack on me, but for the fact that many thousands of people earn a living from a profession they are both passionate about and believe in, the fact they may also be in receipt of a pension is totally irrelevant. To that end I say. "Shame on you Keith for having so little faith in people." I think your comments say more about you than anything else, are you really so narrow minded to believe that prosecution is the only way for drivers who would otherwise be convicted of a potentially dangerous driving offence. You do yourself no justice in making such crass comments and those of us who have spent over 30yrs serving our respective communities as police offers, regardless of their rank, is something that I am very proud of. However, I believe that apart from the most serious of crimes, most drivers deserve a chance to refresh their knowledge and skills, which most do no do voluntarily and so the options we provide are both constructive and helpful. Yes there is a cost but not as much as fines, penalty points and the great risk of increased insurance premiums, not to mention the risk of killing or injuring themselves or others. If you want a reasoned discussion about what we do then lets have one, but such pointless remarks suggest they come from an ageing retired police officer with a very large chip on their shoulder. Surely the latter cannot be true of you, can it?

  • MrGRH  |  August 17 2011, 4:53PM

    I fully agree with saddletramp2. I see everyday van drivers and business people as well as the younger drivers using mobile phones whilst driving. Come on police don't be soft on these offenders no wonder they think it's al right to get away with doing it. Instead be more tougher on these offenders higher fines like £150 plus 3 points and compulsory to go on that course. No wonder offenders get away with committing an offence when the law is too soft on them.

  • Lincoln_Biker  |  August 17 2011, 3:08PM

    The rules of the road are there for everybody's benefit and choosing to break them should result in harsher penalties not lighter ones. Nobody deserves a second chance to make a hollow promise of self improvement on the roads. Break the rules, take the punishment.

  • Lincoln_Fan  |  August 17 2011, 3:00PM

    I once had to ask a professional driver (taxi) in Lincoln to stop inanely chatting on his mobile whilst he was driving me. A professional driver, putting my safety at risk and he looked at me as though I was asking for a favour!

  • bigbarry1  |  August 17 2011, 2:03PM

    @sedgpete Pointing out something you believe in is good . BUT SOME PEOPLE DO HAVE VALID OPINIONS AS WELL AS YOU. Just my view.

  • Sedgepeat  |  August 17 2011, 2:01PM

    Ian H. Some the things you mention, like a scratch of the head, or even eating are not distracting or demand thought process. Looking for the sarny and unwrapping it does though. Telephone conversations do. Important decisions to be made, rows & upsets, a constant demand for response and thought. No-one will ever be at their best if not focusing totally on the drive. Did you make or take a phone call during your test? Did you fiddle with a CD or radio during your test? Had you done so would you have expected to pass? Just base the issue on that simple question and there you have your answers and guidelines. Why on earth is it necessary to engage in a phone call when driving? How on earth did we cope until the cell phone came along?