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'Jersey should follow UK law on mobile phone use in cars'

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DRIVERS in Jersey should be prosecuted for using mobile phones even when their vehicle is stopped but the engine is running, the Constable of St Helier has said.

An online petition calling for a law change has gathered more than 6,200 signatures.

And now Constable Simon Crowcroft said he has given permission for campaigners to collect signatures in the parish because he backs their calls to bring the law in line with the UK.

The petition is also calling for a review of the trial of Rebekah Le Gal – the 39-year-old woman who was cleared of causing death by dangerous driving after her black VW van hit and fatally injured three-year-old Clinton Pringle on Tunnell Street near the Millennium Town Park.

The Royal Court heard she sent a text before the collision but found it did not play a part in her not seeing the boy.

She was sentenced to an eight-month jail term suspended for two years last month, after she pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of causing death by careless driving.

The Road Traffic (Jersey) Law 1956 states that drivers can be prosecuted for merely holding their phones while their vehicle is in motion.

However, it is not an offence to hold or use a phone while a vehicle is stopped, such as at traffic lights.

In the UK drivers can be prosecuted for using their devices while the car is stopped and the engine is running. However, authorities must prove the person was using the phone – holding the device is not enough for an offence to be committed. The maximum fine for regular vehicle drivers is also £1,000, although on-the-spot fines and up to six penalty points can be awarded.

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Jersey does not have a penalty points system but the exiting States police chief Mike Bowron and the Road Safety Panel have backed the introduction of one.

Mr Crowcroft added: 'I do support the campaigns to see Jersey laws brought into line with the UK. It's a subject I am going to look into. I met the States police this week to discuss it.'

One of the petition organisers, Paul Newman, founder of the charity Hands Off, which aims to educate people about the dangers of phone use at the wheel, said a complete ban on phones in vehicles was the best option.

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