One Croydon driver spotted using a mobile every four minutes
DRIVERS were caught using their hand-held mobile phones every four minutes during an Advertiser investigation.
Police have released statistics which show 751 drivers were given fixed penalty notices in Croydon for the offence between April 1 last year and March 31 this year.
While this works out at just under two a day, the Advertiser spotted 15 offenders in a single hour by Thornton Heath pond last week.
Councillor Chris Wright, chair of the former Croydon Road Safety Partnership, said he is appalled at such drivers and claims it is not uncommon.
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He explained: "I don't think people realise the phone rings and their attention is immediately taken away and their mind is now on what's happening on the telephone rather than on the road.
"I know the police have got so many other things on their mind, but I would like to see them be more vigilant.
"Tell them (the offenders) the facts of life – while they're doing this they might cause a serious accident or even death.
"I'd like to see the penalties increased dramatically. I'd like them to come down a lot harder and make an example of some people."
In addition to those blatantly flouting laws with their phones clamped to their ears, the Advertiser also saw many using a legal hands-free kit to speak on their mobiles.
But Cllr Wright added: "Whenever I get into a car I switch off my phone.
"If anybody wants me, hard luck – we existed for years without (mobile) phones."
The police figure of 751 includes one Fixed Penalty Notice, given to somebody who was using a mobile phone while supervising a learner driver.
The figure was an increase of 308 on the previous financial year.
And while drivers' behaviour might change when they spot a marked police car – quickly dropping their mobile phone down out of view – officers insist they will "enforce the law" against anybody caught.
Superintendent Rob Atkin, from Croydon Police, said: "The law is quite clear that using a hand-held mobile phone while driving is not permitted.
"It takes the driver's attention away from what's happening on the road and the consequences of this can be devastating.
"Quite simply, it puts themselves, other road users and pedestrians in serious danger.
"Officers will enforce the law where they see people using hand-held mobiles while driving and if you are caught you could be fined, get points on your licence or even be disqualified from driving."