Again our local cops are coming out with not such a bad message. Yeah, driving while using a mobile phone is a distraction, and its far too common wherever people have mobile phones and cars.
Its good that our cops are occasionally prosecuting for this, but a rate of under 100 per month across the whole county barely scrapes the surface - if I walk down Downing Street I'll see a dozen of the motorists lining up for the Grand Arcade car park on their phones, and thats every single time there's a queue. And we're saying that catching less than 3 a day is something to boast about? No. It matters that they're distracted when inching along in traffic that pedestrians expect to be able to safely cross between, and I think the few moments when traffic starts to clear and the driver accelerates are among the more crucial ones in preventing accidents.
Its not an under-statement to say that if you drive while fannying about with a phone in Cambridgeshire you'll get away with it. You can consider yourself incredibly unlucky if you're caught, its statistically such a freakish event.
But I don't see why it has to be that way, especially in and around our cities. If I can see motorists on their phone, and if I can film them whenever I put a helmet cam on, so can our coppers.
So I propose the following two ways our cops could make a massive difference to road safety in our city. Pick either guys, but both would work well.
Firstly, get your staff who bike commute helmet cameras and to ride to work wearing civvies. Once a week pick out, say, the top 20 incidents from each rider (close overtakes, motorists going through red lights, mobile phone use) and send out notices to those drivers. There you go, off the belt, 20 extra notices served, per cop commuting by bike, per week. Oh, what if you don't get 20 on film? Yeah. Right. You're having a laugh.
Secondly, make it one cops job per day, doesn't have to be the same cop, in fact it would be better to have a rota, to ride around Cambridge or Peterborough with a camera on. Again, in civilian clothes (CID is a thing, right? Coppers In Disguise?). Send a notice to every motorist they find on the phone, jumping lights, passing too close, or driving aggressively. Should't think that in a few hours you'll ever fail to catch hundreds of offenders. One copper per day will put the stats for your entire force to shame.
We're already seeing other forces do similar - come on Cambridgeshire Cops, you can and really should do it too.
And if you don't want this staggering rate of prosecutions for the good of cyclists and pedestrians? Think about your stats. Bluntly, if you're anything other than the enforcement wing of the motoring lobby you'll do it just because you want stellar rates of prosecution.