Madness! As Polish lorry driver is jailed for killing a family while on his mobile, we catch SEVENTEEN foreign truckers using their phones at 50mph. The law MUST be toughened
Eyes glued to their phones, these truckers are gambling with people’s lives.
In just 90 minutes, no fewer than 17 were spotted illegally using mobiles on a busy motorway.
One even took both his hands off the wheel to fiddle with his phone. The shocking pictures of foreign-registered lorries were taken yesterday – just 24 hours after a Polish trucker was jailed for killing a family while distracted by his mobile.
Footage from inside Tomasz Kroker’s cab showed him scrolling through music on his phone before he ploughed into stationary traffic on the A34 in Berkshire.
Tracy Houghton, 45, her sons Ethan, 13, and 11-year-old Josh, and step-daughter Aimee Goldsmith, 11, died instantly. Our photographs were taken on the M20 near Ashford in Kent. The majority of offenders were heading to or from Dover and the Eurotunnel.
Some brazenly held their phones up to their ears or in front of their faces. Others tried to hide them on their laps, meaning they had to look down to see the screen.
Research shows the reaction time of drivers is up to 50 per cent slower than normal when they are using a handheld mobile at the wheel.
The lorries were doing 50 to 60mph – up to 90 yards in three seconds – meaning a short glance at their phone could be fatal.
Our photographer estimated that at least 5 per cent of the lorry drivers he saw were breaking the law, adding: ‘Every one of them is literally an accident waiting to happen. They could easily kill someone.’
The judge who jailed 30-year-old Kroker for ten years said his driving was so bad ‘he might as well have had his eyes closed’.
Police have revealed that they caught another Polish lorry driver who was watching a film on a laptop as he drove along the motorway network.
Kent officers said he was first spotted on the M25 near Sevenoaks and then again on the M20 near Ashford. He was stopped near the junction for the Channel Tunnel and handed a summons to appear at court.
More than 200 Britons have been killed in the past ten years by drivers distracted by their phones.
The Mail launched an End The Mobile Madness campaign in September after a survey by the RAC revealed the shocking scale of illegal phone use by drivers.
Half of drivers confessed to using a handheld phone while in stationary traffic and a third said they had done so while on the move.
Despite this, the number of fines handed to drivers using their phones at the wheel has plummeted 86 per cent in five years, with police now issuing an average of just 46 fixed-penalty notices a day.
Last year 16,900 were given to motorists caught on their phones in England and Wales, down from 123,100 in 2011.
The RAC attributed the dramatic decline in fines to the lack of dedicated road traffic officers and scant police resources.
HGV drivers face tough penalties if they are caught using phones behind the wheel, but the Mail’s photographs show that many are undeterred. Families of those killed by drivers using phones condemned the ‘selfish’ motorists who put others’ lives at risk.
Kate Goldsmith, whose 11-year-old daughter Aimee died in the Kroker crash near Newbury in August, used his sentencing to make an emotional plea to drivers to change their behaviour. She urged motorists to ‘make a personal commitment to stop using mobile phones while driving and make our roads safer for everyone’.
Paul Carvin, whose wife Zoe, 42, was killed by a texting driver, said every motorist who used a handheld phone was a potential killer. ‘My wife was killed ten-and-a-half years ago and it seems people will never learn,’ he said. ‘It is never acceptable to use a handheld phone, even sitting in a traffic jam.’
Mr Carvin called for all lorries to be equipped with cameras in their cabs to deter drivers from using phones.
Jack Kushner, of road safety charity Brake, said: ‘It is incredibly concerning to see so many drivers selfishly using mobile phones behind the wheel.
‘By not paying attention to the road, these dangerous individuals are dramatically increasing their risk of crashing and killing or seriously injuring someone.’
Luke Bosdet of the AA said roadside research found that 2 to 3 per cent of drivers took their eyes off the road to use mobiles.
He said: ‘We need to make sure the public are regularly reminded that using a mobile phone is a stupid thing to do.
‘It can lead to someone being maimed or killed and the person who caused the crash going to jail or losing their licence and job. ‘What needs to happen is the same approach as the UK took towards drink-driving, which was to hammer home the dangers, backed up by severe penalties.’
Days after the Mail launched its mobile campaign, ministers announced plans to double the punishment for using a phone at the wheel, from three penalty points to six.
One-the-spot fines will also rise from £100 to £200 and the six-point penalties mean drivers would lose their licences after two offences.
Kroker pleaded guilty to four counts of causing death by dangerous driving and one count of causing serious injury by dangerous driving and was told he would lose his licence for seven years.
Jailing him, Mrs Justice McGowan said she ‘wholeheartedly’ supported relatives’ calls for greater awareness of the dangers of using mobile phones at the wheel.