DRIVERS caught using mobile phones at the wheel can now escape prosecution in the Humberside Police area by attending a “considerate driving” course.
The initiative, being led by the Safer Roads Humber partnership, sees errant motorists avoid the prospect of a £60 fine and having three penalty points added to their licence by attending the three-hour course, which costs £95.
The classroom-based courses, which are only offered to first-time offenders and those not involved in accidents, are designed to educate drivers about the risks of being distracted at the wheel and the potential consequences of their actions.
Partnership spokeswoman Ruth Gore said: “We are not letting motorists off; it’s another option for the officer to refer them to the course as well as referring to court or giving a ticket out.
“It’s not just for motorists using mobile phones, it’s other offences such as not observing traffic signs or going through red lights. The police can choose how they dispense with that offence and they have developed this course with us.”
It is thought to be the first initiative of its kind in Yorkshire but the idea is being considered by other forces in the region.
One of the main reasons for its introduction is to reduce the costs of taking drivers to court for first-time offences, and to allow the criminal justice system more time to deal with serious offences.
More than 1,900 drivers were caught using mobile phones in East Yorkshire last year, with 100 of them being taken through the courts.
The partnership also runs awareness courses for drivers caught speeding and about 2,000 drivers a month in the force area choose this option as an alternative to prosecution.
Andrew Howard, head of safety at the AA, said: “In many cases education is better than penalties. There has to be some debate when the offence is wilful like a mobile phone as many other offences which get education are often accidental rather than deliberate.”