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

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.

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.

13 comments

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jacknorell [963 posts] 1 year ago
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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

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Jimmy Ray Will [470 posts] 1 year ago
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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.

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truffy [653 posts] 1 year ago
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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).

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pdw [54 posts] 1 year ago
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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.

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racyrich [250 posts] 1 year ago
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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.

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gazza_d [459 posts] 1 year ago
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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.

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BikeBud [204 posts] 1 year ago
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"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"!

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marcswales [31 posts] 1 year ago
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"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.

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severs1966 [334 posts] 1 year ago
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I suspect that the action the police will be taking will be "none", and this has all been a massive red herring.

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Jimmy Ray Will [470 posts] 1 year ago
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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.

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pdw [54 posts] 1 year ago
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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.

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seven [150 posts] 1 year ago
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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?

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Saturday [9 posts] 1 year ago
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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.