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Cops may check crash drivers' mobile records

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The government may give police powers to check crash drivers' mobile phone records after a "routine accident", the Daily Telegraph reports.

Currently, mobile phone records can be probed "only after a fatal accident and on the instruction of a senior officer".

The government says that in 2005, 13 road deaths, 52 serious and 364 minor accidents were linked to mobile phone use.

A Pontypool sales executive was recently jailed for two years following an accident which claimed the life of another driver. The prosecution said Michael Smith had sent a long text message just minutes before the head-on collision, and received a reply just as the incident occurred.

The new proposal is part of the Department for Transport's second review of road safety strategy, released to coincide with today's implementation of the increased £60 fine and three points for using a handheld phone. The paper says: "We will look at ways to make it easier for the police to be able to follow the process of investigating whether mobile phone use was a contributory factor in an accident and thus prosecute more offenders."

Specifically, police sources say "this would entail lowering the seniority of both the officer who can check the records and the threshold of the severity of the accident".

Police would be able to check the device's own call records or, if the phone was destroyed, the operator's records.

The review also moots the possibility of random breath testing without the need for an officer to "provide a legitimate reason for a test, such as spotting a motorist driving erratically or committing a moving traffic offence". ®

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