Grieving mother urges drivers to put mobile phones away after son was hit on A46 near Flintham in December 2019
A grieving mother is asking drivers to pledge to never use their mobile phone when driving even on handsfree technology.
Mary Aves, whose son was tragically killed by a driver who was on a hands free call, is backing a Nottinghamshire Police campaign targeting drivers who use their mobile phones behind the wheel.
The roads policing enforcement activity, which started this week (February 8) and runs for a fortnight, sees £200 fines issued for the offence as well as drivers given six points on their licence. The crackdown comes ahead of rule changes being consulted by the government as ministers look to introduce a new law that will criminalise the use of mobile phones 'in all circumstances while driving.'
Mrs Aves’ son, John Aves (pictured), died after his motorbike was hit by a car from behind as he travelled on the A46 near Flintham in December 2019.
The police investigation uncovered that the driver, Natasha Labidi, was engaged in a hands-free telephone call at the time. While this is not against the law, using a mobile phone can impact on concentration levels and distract attention away from the road. In this case, it was found to be a significant factor in causing the collision.
As a result, Labidi, 40, of Anson Road in Newton, was sentenced to a 12-month community order on Wednesday 10 February 2021 having been found guilty of causing death by careless driving.
Mrs Aves said the family was both frustrated and devastated to learn that Mr Aves had lost his life at the hands of a driver who was on her mobile phone. She said: "It means that John's death was completely avoidable and for us that makes it even more of a tragedy. He suffered needlessly and purely because the driver couldn't wait until she got home to speak on her mobile phone.
"We know that using a mobile handsfree while driving isn't illegal but it is proven to reduce concentration, especially when driving with it for long periods of time. That is why we would ask drivers to simply put their phone away and not to use it completely. Just be patient and wait until you've stopped driving.
"Nothing can make up for the pain and grief that we are going through but if John's death can prevent someone else from being a victim to this, that will help it count for something and he would have wanted to help save another person’s life."
From January 2017 to July 2020 there were a total number of 60 reported collisions where distraction by a mobile phone was identified as a contributory factor and resulted in 94 casualties. This included four people who were killed in four fatal collisions and 14 people who suffered serious injuries in nine collisions. However, it is believed that mobile phone use behind the wheel is massively under reported and it can only be identified as a factor if police find evidence of mobile phone use.
Inspector Clare Gibson, of Nottinghamshire's roads policing unit, said: "We echo Mrs Aves plea to drivers not to use their mobile phones at all when behind the wheel.
"We've investigated many cases where drivers have been looking at social media, selecting music, checking emails or navigating on a digital map on their mobile phone when they should have been focussing on the road.
"We see the pain and devastation this causes and firmly believe the best approach is to put your mobile phone away and out of sight as soon as you get in your vehicle. Making or taking a phone call when driving just isn't worth the risk, it can have tragic consequences for everyone involved.
“We want to take action against drivers who use their mobile phone before they can inflict suffering on anyone else.
"So if you do use your mobile phone when driving, just think about how your actions could impact on you and others. Surely whatever you're doing wouldn't seem worthwhile if you had to explain why you were doing it following a serious collision."
The force's operation is in line with a national campaign being coordinated by the National Police Chief's Council (NPCC).
People who have information about a driver using a mobile phone behind the wheel is urged to call Nottinghamshire Police on 101.