Chief Constable Ian Hopkins was speaking at the launch of a major operation to catch those who disregard the safety of other road users. The initiative will see officers targeting the main routes around Greater Manchester to enforce the law and educate drivers.
From Monday 14 November officers will be using undercover and marked police vehicles to catch people and the operation will continue throughout the coming weeks and in the run up to Christmas. It is supporting a national week of action to highlight the risks and make people aware of the serious penalties that they will face.
Ian said: “It is time for drivers to take personal responsibility for what they do when in charge of a vehicle. The consequences of using a mobile while behind the wheel are huge and can lead to people being seriously injured or killed. It leaves families devastated and we must stop it now.
“No-one would think of getting into a car with someone who has been drinking alcohol in the driving seat so why would you put yourself at risk when someone uses a mobile. We can all make a difference by urging people to think about their actions.
“Parents would never drink and drive with their children in the car, so they should never use a mobile when driving. The message is simple put it out of sight until you have finished your journey. Avoid the temptation by putting it in a bag, the boot of your car or the glove box.
“We can all play our part to make this as unacceptable as drink driving. I am calling on the manufacturers of cars and mobile phones to work together to introduce technology that will prevent people using phones when driving except through hands free kits.”
From next year, new penalties will be in place seeing drivers get six points on their licence and a £200 spot fine for using a mobile phone while driving.
More than 5,000 drivers in Greater Manchester have been given fixed penalty notices or sent on a mobile phone awareness course in the past two years. Traffic officers believe those numbers are just the tip of the iceberg with an increasing number of people being spotted driving and using their mobile phones.
GMP will also be raising awareness of the issue through social media and calling on people to consider what they are doing. It is part of a #wrongfortheroad campaign that will continue to target unacceptable behaviour on the roads of Greater Manchester. To support the initiative a Twitterchat will be held with traffic officers on Thursday 17 November.
Anyone with details of persistent offenders who are driving and using their mobile should contact local officers or call 101 with details.