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Drivers targetted in phone clampdown

Officers from the Hampshire and Thames Valley Joint Operation Unit have begun a week long operation targeting people who use their mobile phones while driving.

The operation will run across Hampshire, the Isle of Wight and Thames Valley and will see dedicated teams of officers targeting those who break the law by using their mobile phone while driving. As well as imposing penalties on those who flout the law, police will also be educating drivers about the dangers.

Between April 1 2013 and March 31 2014, officers have caught 15952 drivers using mobile phones or similar devices, across the three counties. Male drivers accounted for 12280 of those detected.

5280 of the drivers were caught in the Hampshire Constabulary area and 10672 in the Thames Valley Police area.

Those aged between 26 and 37 were the most prevalent offenders with 5521 being caught across the two forces during the time period.

The Facts

You’re four times more likely to crash if you use a mobile phone while drivingReaction times for drivers using a phone are around 50 per cent slower than normal drivingEven careful drivers can be distracted by a call or text – and a split-second lapse in concentration could result in a crash

The Law:

It’s illegal to ride a motorcycle or drive using hand-held phones or similar devices.The rules are the same if you’re stopped at traffic lights or queuing in traffic.It’s also illegal to use a hand-held phone or similar device when supervising a learner driver or rider.The penalties: If caught using your phone while driving, you can expect an automatic fixed penalty notice of three points on your licence and a fine of £100. The case could also go to court and you could be disqualified from driving or riding and get a maximum fine of £1,000. Drivers of buses or goods vehicles could get a maximum fine of £2,500.

As an alternative, those caught may be offered a Driver Diversion Course as an alternative to prosecution. The cost of the course is £85 and run by AA DriveTech.

You can use hands-free phones, sat navs and 2-way radios when you’re driving or riding. But if the police think you’re distracted and not in control of your vehicle you could still get stopped and penalised.

You can use a phone in your vehicle only if you need to call 999 in an emergency and it’s unsafe or unpractical to stop; or if you are safely parked.

“Using a mobile phone whilst driving is extremely dangerous. You are fours times more likely to crash if you use a mobile phone whilst driving. The reaction times for drivers is around 50 per cent slower than normal when using a phone.

“My advice is to turn off your phone or put it on silent. Keep your phone out of reach to avoid the temptation of looking at texts or making a call, it's not worth the risk!"

– Sgt Rob Heard

Strong winds cause scaffolding to come down

Scaffolding collapses in Hungerford Credit: Jonathan Player
Scaffolding collapses in Hungerford Credit: Jonathan Player
Scaffolding collapses in Hungerford Credit: Jonathan Player
Scaffolding collapses in Hungerford Credit: Jonathan Player
Scaffolding collapses in Hungerford Credit: Jonathan Player
Scaffolding collapses in Hungerford Credit: Jonathan Player
Scaffolding collapses in Hungerford Credit: Jonathan Player

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Thousands of air passengers face severe travel disruption

Thousands of air passengers face severe travel disruption today after flights were cancelled due to high winds and heavy rain.

Heathrow staff said 10% of flights with the 20 biggest carriers into and out of the London airport will be cancelled, as the remnants of Hurricane Gonzalo arrive in the UK.

Gusts of up to 75mph in coastal areas and 65mph inland will tear across much of the country bringing disruption to many areas, particularly to those needing to travel.

A Heathrow spokesman said, "There will be some cancellations, around 10% of flights are affected at Heathrow. We do not know exactly how many passengers or flights that will have an impact on.

The Met Office has issued a low level "yellow" weather warning.

A spokesman said, "The strongest winds are expected on Tuesday as the low pressure clears eastwards. There remains the potential for localised disruption to travel, especially as the strongest winds will coincide with rush hour in places. Fallen leaves impeding drainage increases the risk of surface water affecting roads, while some damage to trees is possible, given that many are still in full leaf."

Hurricane Gonzalo last week caused widespread damage and a power blackout when it hit Bermuda.

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