The government has announced that from 1st March 17 motorists caught using a mobile phone at the wheel will automatically receive six penalty points on their license and will receive an on the spot fine of £200, both doubling from the current law.

This comes after the police handed out almost 8,000 fixed penalty notices in a week long crackdown last year.

Thirty-six forces took part in the campaign last November across England, Wales and Northern Ireland. In total, the police handed out 7,966 fixed penalty notices, which averages out at a rate of 47 motorists caught per hour.

Inspector Dave Gust speaking from the Roads Policing Unit said: “Driving whilst using a mobile phone is a serious concern for police, and a concern that so many drivers continue and choose to risk becoming involved in a serious or fatal road traffic collision.”

“Even the most experienced or competent of drivers can easily be distracted and a slight lapse in concentration can have devastating consequences.

“Along with drink driving, speeding, not wearing a seatbelt and driving carelessly, using a mobile phone behind the wheel, whether it be texting, using an app, or making a phone call is classed as one of the ‘Fatal 5’ – the five most common causes of fatal road traffic collisions.”

“With the increased use of smart phones we are also seeing drivers being distracted whilst accessing their apps, reading their emails or accessing the internet. Drivers need to be aware that these actions carry the same danger and the same penalty.”