FIFTY drivers A DAY are being caught using a mobile phone behind the wheel despite tougher penalties

More than 50 drivers a day are still caught with their mobile phones at the wheel – putting lives at risk.

The number of motorists caught by police has doubled in some areas despite the recent introduction of tougher penalties.

Official figures released by the Home Office show that the number of fines issued for using a handheld device has risen by 10 per cent in England and Wales in a year.

The statistics show that 53 motorists are caught a day, with 19,655 fixed penalty notices last year compared to 17,873 in 2020.

More than 50 drivers a day are still caught with their mobile phones at the wheel - putting lives at risk, Home Office data reveals

More than 50 drivers a day are still caught with their mobile phones at the wheel – putting lives at risk, Home Office data reveals

VAN DRIVER KILLED CYCLIST WHILE SCROLLING ON FACEBOOK

Simon Draper was using his mobile phone when he crashed his van into a cyclist

Simon Draper was using his mobile phone when he crashed his van into a cyclist

A lorry driver who tried to blame his 18-month-old toddler after killing a cyclist while on the phone has been jailed for five years.

Simon Draper was looking at Facebook and Instagram on his mobile moments before he and police sergeant Lynwen Thomas, who posted the pictures, as she cycled home in Carmarthen, south-west Wales, last February.

Check out Facebook: Simon Draper

The 42-year-old insisted it was his 13-month-old son who was on the phone, but he failed to convince jurors at Swansea Crown Court, who convicted him of death by dangerous driving in November.

But road safety campaigners fear the figures could be the tip of the iceberg as police have had fewer opportunities during the pandemic to catch drivers calling, texting or scrolling on the wheel due to the closures which have seen traffic at 50 per cent of normal levels to have.

In several areas of the force, there has been a dramatic increase in drivers caught in the year to 31 December 2021, the latest figures available.

Cheshire Police recorded a doubling of fines from 516 in 2020 to 1,031 drivers fined last year.

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Derbyshire Police has also doubled the number of fines issued from 57 in 2020 to 114 last year.

Scotland Yard caught the largest number of drivers, with 4,196 fined for using their mobile phones last year, an 18 per cent rise on the previous year.

More than 1,000 fines were also handed out by officers in West Yorkshire, Cheshire, Greater Manchester and Merseyside.

Hand-held danger: drivers face a £200 fine and six points on their licence

But analysis of the AA’s figures also suggests that enforcement is not a priority in some forces.

Suffolk Police handed out a total of just 22 fines in the past three years, with officers only stopping six drivers on their phones in 2021.

The end of the Daily Mail’s Mobile Madness campaign has succeeded in tougher penalties for drivers who endanger the lives of others by using their phones.

After a law change in March, motorists can be stopped if they use a mobile phone behind the wheel for any use, not just to make a phone call.

This includes taking photos or videos, scrolling through music playlists, using satnav, streaming services or playing games.

Drivers face a £200 fixed penalty notice and six points on their licence.

Since 2003 it has been an offense to use a mobile phone while driving in the UK, but the law was tightened after many motorists avoided prosecution by arguing that they were not using it for “interactive communication”.

Nevertheless, thousands of drivers continue to evade the ban, including prominent figures.

Last month, Security Minister Tom Tugendhat MP was given a six-month driving ban after he was caught using his phone.

Now MPs and road safety campaigners are calling for more police enforcement, saying abuse is still “rampant” on the roads.

Liberal Democrat Home Office spokesman Alistair Carmichael said: ‘These figures are very worrying. Drivers are clearly not getting the message. It shows that the number of accidents is also increasing.

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“The issue is that people don’t think they will be caught if there is no visible police presence on the streets.

‘But officers up and down the country are too tied up in bureaucracy and paperwork rather than getting out on the streets.

TWO-WEEK-OLD BABY DIES IN HIT-AND-RUN MOBILE CRASH

James Davis, 36, killed a two-week-old baby after driving at 67mph in a 30mph zone and crashing into a pram

James Davis, 36, killed a two-week-old baby after driving at 67mph in a 30mph zone and crashing into a pram

A hit-and-run driver has been jailed for killing a two-week-old baby after crashing into a pram while on the phone.

James Davis, 36, was driving an unregistered BMW when he hit a car and mounted the pavement, killing Ciaran Leigh Morris on Easter Sunday last year.

Davis, who had an appalling record of driving offences, fled the scene in Brownhills, near Walsall, leaving the baby to die and his mother with a broken collarbone.

He was sentenced to six and a half years at Wolverhampton Crown Court in April for causing death by dangerous driving whilst uninsured, but this was increased to ten years on appeal.

“These figures show that increasing the penalty is not enough, we need to see more visible policing as a deterrent.”

According to the road safety campaign Think, drivers are four times more likely to be involved in an accident when using a phone.

Reaction times are two times slower when texting and driving with a hands-free phone than when drinking, and this increases to three times when holding the device.

In 2020, 17 people were killed on Britain’s roads in accidents involving drivers who were distracted by mobile phones.

A further 114 people were seriously injured and 385 slightly injured, according to figures from the Department of Transport.

Jack Cousens, head of road policy for the AA, who analyzed the figures, said yesterday: “Although fines for mobile phone use while driving continue their painfully slow decline, the latest statistics from the Home Office show that the abuse last Year was still right.

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“It is likely that illegal mobile phone use was worse than the figures suggest as the police were often tied up to enforce the lockdown – and many drivers probably thought they could get away with the offense as they expected to see fewer police on the road .

The figures for 2022 could be a watershed to show how well the message not to use a hand-held mobile phone while driving is respected by drivers.

‘The law around mobile phone use while driving has evolved to mean that just holding a device is enough to be punished.’

Distraction: Drivers are four times more likely to get into a crash if they are using a phone, research shows

National Police Chiefs Council lead for road policing, Chief Constable Jo Shiner, said: “We remain committed to reducing the harm caused by distracted driving. Through the NPCC’s Policing our Roads Together strategy, we coordinate an annual national campaign to Remind drivers of the penalties and consequences of using their mobile phone illegally.

However, police officers take robust action to pursue offenders every day and will continue to do so.

“Personal responsibility is the starting point for safer roads. Obeying the laws of the road, which are primarily for the protection of life, reduces the chances of being killed or seriously injured in a collision or a fatal or serious to cause collision.

“Mobile phones have many more and more distracting functions, it is illegal to hold and use a phone while riding or traveling on a motorcycle. This means not using a device in your hand for any reason, whether online or offline. D ‘Penalty for this can be that you lose your license.

‘Our message remains simple, a moment’s distraction can change innocent lives forever, don’t take the risk.’

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