The police have caught more than 200 drivers a day using a mobile at the wheel immediately after tougher penalties of the offence came into effect, figures reveal.
In a four-week period in March this year, almost 6,000 drivers have fallen foul of the law and faced a £200 fine and six points on their license.
The figure breaks down to one every seven minutes and campaigners say the “worrying” findings suggest many are ignoring warnings about the dangers of the practice.
The Metropolitan Police had the highest number of registered offences of all of Britain’s forces, catching over 2,000 drivers. This means, on average, more than 70 drivers each day were caught using their mobile phone while driving a vehicle.
Road safety charity Brake called driver distraction a “growing menace” and called for the £200 fine to be “significantly increased.”
Data obtained following freedom of information requests show forces recorded 5,977 instances of the practice the four weeks after the clampdown was rolled out.
The actual figure is likely to be higher as seven forces did not provide results and some cases may not have been logged at the time responses were issued.
Thames Valley Police recorded the second-largest total at 478, followed by Police Scotland at 339, Hampshire Police on 280 and Cheshire Police at 224.
Motoring research charity the RAC Foundation described the increased penalties as “a start”, but warned the figures suggest “the key message still isn’t sinking in.”
Steve Gooding, RAC director, said: “Driving is a safety-critical activity that requires our full attention. Hands need to be on the wheel and eyes looking out of the windscreen, not down at the phone screen.”
Road spokesman Jack Kushner described the number of drivers “selfishly using their mobile phones behind the wheel” as concerning. He added: “Driver distraction is a growing menace and it’s worrying that drivers don’t seem to be getting the message.”