Lincolnshire motorists caught using mobile phones could escape points
MOTORISTS caught using handheld mobile phones in Lincolnshire could escape conviction.
In lieu of a £60 fine and three points, offenders will be given the chance to stump up about £80 to attend a What's Driving You? course.
And the money raised by Lincolnshire Road Safety Partnership will go back into road safety campaigns.
Principal road safety coordinator Greville Burgess said the emphasis on education could save lives.
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He said: "This way, you don't get the points, so you don't have a conviction and your insurance does not go up.
"The evidence from other diversionary courses is very positive in that nationally less than 1 per cent re-offend within three years of completing the course. This strongly suggests that education rather than simple penalty points and a fine is more effective."
What's Driving You? also covers failing to wear seat belts, careless driving outside of a collision and traffic signal offences.
A second more expensive course is due to be launched later this year.
Drive4Change will be a practical assessed drive for what police deem to have been deliberate offenders.
Figures supplied by Lincolnshire Police show 1,949 motorists were each fined £60 for mobile phone offences in 2009, compared with 1,834 last year. The cash goes to the Treasury.
Lincolnshire Road Safety Partnership already runs speed awareness workshops for which speeders pay £85 and the income generated is spent on operating and maintaining the county's speed cameras.
The partnership aims to replace £1.4 million that was formerly provided in Government grants with revenue from the speed workshops.
Surpluses go into subsidies for mature and young driver training courses.
But Keith Peat, Lincolnshire co-ordinator for the Association of British Drivers, said: "This is just another example of the road safety industry being less interested in what actually kills providing they can sell courses."