An astonishing 500 people a week are being caught using a hand-held mobile phone while driving despite a Government blitz aimed at stamping out the potentially-lethal practice.
New figures reveal that more than 26,000 motorists were caught committing the offence in the 12 months to March. Of those, 500 had their licences revoked because they had been driving for less than two years.
Drivers face a £200 fine and six points on their licence if they are caught making a call, texting or even simply holding their phone while behind the wheel.
Figures reveal an astonishing 500 people a week are caught using mobiles at the wheel
The tough new penalties were introduced in March last year following a number of fatal crashes. Previously, those convicted of using their phones were fined £100 and given three penalty points.
In 2016, 35 people were killed in accidents where a driver was using a mobile phone compared to 22 the previous year, according to a Department for Transport report.
Last week, a teenage hairdresser was jailed for 18 months after ploughing her car into a wall while making a two-minute Facebook video call, nearly killing her half-sister who was a passenger in the vehicle. Learner driver Danielle Cooper, 19, of Epworth, Lincolnshire, was so distracted during the call that she failed to even brake before the collision. Her half-sister, Linsay Taylor suffered ‘life-changing’ injuries.
West Mercia Chief Constable Anthony Bangham, the National Police Chiefs’ Council lead on road policing, warned that too many people were still underestimating the risks involved when using their phone at the wheel.
Despite the latest figures, Road Safety Minister Jesse Norman insisted last night that the new penalties had ‘proven to be a strong deterrent’.
He said: ‘Everyone has a role to play to encourage drivers to put their phone away and not use it at the wheel.’ RAC road safety spokesman Pete Williams added: ‘Drivers really need to ask themselves what is so important that they must risk their life, and the lives of others, by using a handheld mobile phone at the wheel.’