Shocked safety team see drivers eating breakfast and playing the harmonica

PUBLISHED: 15:23 08 July 2008 | UPDATED: 13:25 06 May 2010

A ROAD-safety team could hardly believe their eyes when they carried out a check to see what drivers got up to when they were behind the wheel. The exercise by Herts County Council s Road Safety Unit was done over a month-long period in various places aro

A ROAD-safety team could hardly believe their eyes when they carried out a check to see what drivers got up to when they were behind the wheel.

The exercise by Herts County Council's Road Safety Unit was done over a month-long period in various places around the county.

In St Albans they were shocked to see:

Six drivers eating breakfast;

Seven reading;

One man playing the harmonica;

Two people applying make-up;

Five taking hot drinks;

Ten drivers texting;

Eighteen drivers using hand-held mobile phones.

In another area they were greeted with the sight of two drivers with dogs on their laps and one person with a phone in one hand and a sandwich in the other.

The officers also noticed that most of those seen talking on mobiles were doing so at around nine o'clock in the morning - suggesting that many of these calls would be to work, to report that the caller was stuck in traffic and would be arriving late.

"The crazy, dangerous antics recorded by our team are simply unbelievable - and many of them wouldn't be out of place on 'Police, Camera, Action'," said County Councillor Stuart Pile, Executive Member for Highways, Transport and Rural Affairs.

"What is deeply worrying about all of this is not only the extremes of carelessness we've seen during the exercise, but the fact that this blatant disregard for the law and other people's safety seems to be so widely accepted.

"Driving may feel automatic once you've been doing it for a while, but really it needs your full attention at all times and even the smallest lapse in concentration can mean killing or injuring yourself and others - so driving your car as though you were sitting in front of the TV is gambling with people's lives.

"The message is simple -- turn off your phone, put down your morning coffee and focus on the job in hand, driving safely."

If you use a hand-held mobile phone you are committing a crime and could face a £60 fine and three points on your licence. If the case goes to court, you could risk a maximum fine of £1,000, which rises to £2,500 for the driver of a bus, coach, or heavy goods vehicle.

A driver may call 999 in response to a genuine emergency when it is unsafe or impractical to stop to make the call.

Though eating, drinking, smoking, using a sat nav or using a mobile phone with a legal headset is not strictly an offence on its own, you could face prosecution for driving without due care and attention or not being in control of your vehicle.

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