Police chiefs deny post-crash phone seizure plan

ACPO denies that mobile phones will be seized after all road tcrashes, but insists it is taking issue seriously

by Simon_MacMichael   July 28, 2014  

Texting while driving (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 licence by Paul Oka:Flickr)

The Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) says that press reports at the weekend claiming that officers had been instructed to seize mobile phones at all road traffic collisions are incorrect.

It is illegal to use a handheld mobile phone at the wheel, but the law is widely ignored, despite calls from road safety organisations for police to step up enforcement.

Gloucestershire Chief Constable Suzette Davenport, who is responsible for roads policing at ACPO, was widely reported at the weekend to have told officers to take possession of mobile phones after a crash.

But in a statement published on the ACPO website, she said: “At no point have I issued guidance to officers to seize mobile phones from drivers at the site of every road traffic collision.

“It is fair to say that we as a service are looking at ways of making officers and drivers more aware of the difference between the offences of driving while not in proper control of the vehicle - which is a distraction offence - and driving while using a mobile phone.

“Part of this process involves making sure officers know the best means of using information within a driver’s mobile phone when building evidence for a successful prosecution, such as finding from call or text logs if the phone was in use at the time of an incident.

Currently, mobile phones are seized in incidents where someone has been killed or injured, and Chief Constable Davenport confirmed that would not change.

“It has been standard practice to seize mobile phones from drivers at the scenes of very serious collisions for some time as part of the information and evidence gathering process, but it is not now, nor will it be, standard practice to seize phones from drivers after every collision,” she said.

“Drivers must continue to be aware not only of the risks posed by being distracted by mobile phones while in control of a car, but the serious penalties which they will face if they are caught. We are unequivocal in our determination to keep all road users safe.”

Earlier this month, Secretary of State for Transport Patrick McLoughlin said that the government was seriously considering a suggestion from Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe to double the number of penalty points for using a hands-free mobile phone  while driving from three to six.

14 user comments

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So, what, exactly, ARE they going to do? Besides expelling hot air, that is?

If they would say something along the line of "mobiles will be checked for use at every road traffic incident as standard practice", at least that's something.

"Never mistake motion for action" - Ernest Hemingway

posted by jacknorell [396 posts]
28th July 2014 - 10:44

18 Likes

I'm not sure... how important is this?

i.e. is this a car seatbelt or cycling helmet matter?

Seatbelts were brought in because in serious RTA's, there was a high percentage of serious injuries caused by drivers/passengers going through windscreens; being crushed against the steering wheel or by other passengers. It was an answer to a recognised need (to stop a lot of people dying).

Cycling helmets came about because it was recognised that cycling posed a potential risk of head injury... helmets were designed to mitigate against this. It was a solution to a perceived risk (to stop a few people dying needlessly).

So, with mobiles, we know that they reduce the attention of drivers and that in turn makes them more likely to crash...

What I am asking is how does that equate to accident numbers/severity?

If that's not known currently, then it needs to become so and then adequate attention can be given to the matter.

posted by Jimmy Ray Will [285 posts]
28th July 2014 - 11:21

20 Likes

It's an excellent question. All I've ever heard is that using a mobile while driving is like driving under the influence of alcohol, with hands-free only offering some mitigation. But as to numbers of lives lost/impaired, I'd like to see those numbers too (not because I disbelieve so much as want to understand the impact).

posted by truffy [330 posts]
28th July 2014 - 11:28

25 Likes

Quote:
What I am asking is how does that equate to accident numbers/severity?

The figure cited for the US is 11 deaths of teenagers alone every day from driving whilst texting. If the rate per head of population were the same in the UK, that would be 2/day.

I can believe that the rate in the US is worse than the UK, but I suspect that the number in the UK is still non-trivial, particularly once expanded to non-teenagers, and people talking rather than texting on their phone. And of course, these figures completely ignore non-fatal injuries.

posted by pdw [33 posts]
28th July 2014 - 11:49

17 Likes

Quote:
It has been standard practice to seize mobile phones from drivers at the scenes of very serious collisions for some time as part of the information and evidence gathering process, but it is not now, nor will it be, standard practice to seize phones from drivers after every collision

For years and years we've been ill-served by the libertarian logic that only the error should be punished, not the outcome, as nine times out of 10 a lack of attention has no consequence beyond a scuffed tyre.

And yet here we are saying that it's the outcome, which is pretty much a case of luck, that decides whether somethng is worth investigating properly or not. It's not like this a hugely onerous piece of investigation.

posted by racyrich [128 posts]
28th July 2014 - 12:13

21 Likes

pdw wrote:
Quote:
What I am asking is how does that equate to accident numbers/severity?

The figure cited for the US is 11 deaths of teenagers alone every day from driving whilst texting. If the rate per head of population were the same in the UK, that would be 2/day.

I can believe that the rate in the US is worse than the UK, but I suspect that the number in the UK is still non-trivial, particularly once expanded to non-teenagers, and people talking rather than texting on their phone. And of course, these figures completely ignore non-fatal injuries.

Given that approximately 5 people are killed on roads everyday in the UK, then that suggests mobiles would account for nearly half.

Given the numbers I see everyday using the phone then I fimly believe mobiles should be seized following a collision for investigation.

posted by gazza_d [214 posts]
28th July 2014 - 12:20

18 Likes

Surely this should be debated by Parliament?

Airzound

posted by Airzound [317 posts]
28th July 2014 - 12:21

18 Likes

"Stable door" approach - not ideal. People just don't see it as dangerous or unacceptable, and that needs to change to STOP people from using phones whilst driving - not prosecuting them after a resulting accident!

I saw a driver texting on Sunday. I knocked on her window (she was suitably surprised and of course tried to hide her phone). I asked her to put her phone down. She said "Yes, of course, sorry". I also told her she was stopped in the Advanced Stop Line for cyclists, to which she replied "Am I? I didn't realise".

It made a really nice change from "f*** off - mind your own business"!

posted by BikeBud [103 posts]
28th July 2014 - 12:36

16 Likes

"Cycling helmets came about because" the manufacturers found that they could sell 1/2 a motorcycle helmet ( the inner) for 2/3rds the price, and then the standards were written to pass the helmets already being made/sold. Don't mistake a commercial drive for want/need or a scientific proof of effectivness.

posted by marcswales [5 posts]
28th July 2014 - 12:54

30 Likes

I suspect that the action the police will be taking will be "none", and this has all been a massive red herring.

posted by severs1966 [84 posts]
28th July 2014 - 13:03

24 Likes

marcswales wrote:
"Cycling helmets came about because" the manufacturers found that they could sell 1/2 a motorcycle helmet ( the inner) for 2/3rds the price, and then the standards were written to pass the helmets already being made/sold. Don't mistake a commercial drive for want/need or a scientific proof of effectivness.

I absolutely agree with you... I was trying to diplomatically describe the difference between the two scenarios and asking if the same applied here.

Utilising data from the US, do we know how many teenagers die in crashes on a daily basis.

If we know the total number we can cross reference how many are from mobile phone use and get a loose idea of the scale of the problem.

I struggle to believe 50% of fatal crashes are caused by mobiles.

posted by Jimmy Ray Will [285 posts]
28th July 2014 - 13:04

18 Likes

Quote:
Given that approximately 5 people are killed on roads everyday in the UK, then that suggests mobiles would account for nearly half.

Which, combined with the fact that road deaths haven't gone up significantly over the last ten or so years makes be think that 2/day is an over-estimate for the UK. Still, I suspect that the answer is a non-trivial number of deaths.

posted by pdw [33 posts]
28th July 2014 - 14:46

12 Likes

pdw wrote:
Quote:
Given that approximately 5 people are killed on roads everyday in the UK, then that suggests mobiles would account for nearly half.

Which, combined with the fact that road deaths haven't gone up significantly over the last ten or so years makes be think that 2/day is an over-estimate for the UK. Still, I suspect that the answer is a non-trivial number of deaths.

Mobile related KSI could be masking a contemporaneous decline in other KSI causes?

seven's picture

posted by seven [112 posts]
28th July 2014 - 15:20

13 Likes

Mobiles lower reaction time on average, anything that does that should be avoided/banned.

I always find it odd that people put other mundane things above their safety.

But as a law it's not really easy to enforce , we need to somehow change peoples attitudes.

posted by Saturday [9 posts]
28th July 2014 - 18:32

9 Likes