Number of drivers caught using a mobile phone halves

The number of motorists caught using a mobile phone illegally has almost halved since penalties for offenders were doubled.

Statistics released one year on from the law change reveal a dramatic fall in the number of drivers caught using their phone at the wheel.

Around 39,000 fixed penalty notices were issued between March and December last year – compared with 74,000 during the same period in 2016.

The 47 per cent drop could be a result of both harsher punishments and effective road safety campaigns, the AA said.

The number of people caught using their mobile phones behind the wheel (stock image) has almost halved since the fine went up 

But it also warned that falling numbers of traffic officers may have led to a lack of enforcement on the road.

The figures were obtained by the breakdown rescue firm after it submitted Freedom of Information requests to the UK's 45 police forces, receiving responses from 41.

The most dramatic drop in penalties occurred in and around the capital.

City of London Police handed out just 165 fixed penalty notices in 2017 – a fall of 80 per cent from 824 in 2016.

Thames Valley Police saw the greatest reduction in the total number of drivers punished for using their phones, from 8,248 in 2016 to 2,941 in 2017.

Other forces that issued significantly fewer penalties were South Wales Police, down 54 per cent; Police Scotland, down 51 per cent; and West Yorkshire Police,

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