Police officers attending the scene of a car crash photographed 80 motorists using their mobile phone – many to photograph or video the incident – while they went past on the opposite carriageway.
Officers from the Collision Investigation Team took the footage of motorists using the northbound carriageway of the M1 on June 14, as emergency services were responding to a serious collision which left the road closed for 11 hours.
The collision took place at 6.20am and involved a lorry being driven by a 21-year-old woman who was trapped in the vehicle for four-and-a-half hours.
While the other emergency services were working to free the driver, police officers noticed that a lot of motorists on the opposite carriageway were taking footage of the scene of their mobile phones.
So they set up a camera to record the motorists going past and found 80 used their mobile phone to take pictures of the scene, while driving.
Officers have now written to the owners of all of those vehicles to explain the person driving the vehicle at the time was found to be committing an offence and highlighting the dangers of that offence.
Sgt Nick Gray from the Collision Investigation Unit said: “After completing our investigations at the scene of the collision, we were astonished to see so many motorists using their mobile phones to capture an image of what was a horrific collision.
“Because of how badly the driver was trapped, we had a period of four hours before we could continue with our work and after witnessing the number of people using mobile phones decided to use a camera to film motorists travelling on the opposite carriageway. During those four hours we filmed 80 motorists using their phones to capture images of the collision.”
Sgt Gray added: “We have written to the owners of the vehicles where the driver found was using a camera and a formal record, including photographic evidence, will be retained.
“In a number of cases where the motorist was using a vehicle belonging to their employers, the employers have contacted us requesting more information so they can take internal disciplinary action.”
Sgt Gray said the force had taken the decision not to prosecute the motorists in a bid to educate them about the consequences of using a mobile phone while behind the wheel.
Using your mobile phone while driving is one of the areas the force concentrates on as part of the Fatal Four campaign, the other three being, speeding, not wearing a seatbelt and drink-driving.
Sgt Gray added: “Using your mobile phone while driving can and does lead to serious injury, and sometimes fatal, road traffic collisions. The drivers photographed showed a total disregard for the law and the devastation which would be caused to their own or another family in a fatal road traffic collision. Many of the drivers photograph would class themselves as ‘professional drivers’.
“I am astounded that people not only use their mobile phones to talk on while driving, but would also use them to take pictures, especially at the scene of such a serious road traffic collision.
“It is every motorists responsibility to make sure they follow the law and no phone call, picture or text message is important than risking your own, or other road users lives.”
The force has been operating the Fatal Four campaign since 2009 with the aim of reducing the number of offences committed on the county’s roads, through enforcement, education and communication.
The woman injured in the road traffic collision remains in a critical condition in hospital.