More than 3,600 people were caught using their mobile phone at the wheel in West Yorkshire last year, the county’s police force has revealed.
A total of 3,631 offences of using a mobile phone while driving or stopped with the engine on were recorded by West Yorkshire Police in 2016, compared with 2,785 in 2014 and 2,790 in 2015.
New legislation is due to come in to force in March, meaning drivers stopped while using a mobile phone will receive six penalty points and a £200 fine.
Currently, they are issued with three points and a £100 fine or may be eligible to take part in a driver improvement programme. From March the latter option will not be available.
Nationally, it emerged yesterday that more than 40 drivers were caught every hour during a police crackdown on illegal mobile phone use behind the wheel in November.
Officers handed out 7,966 fixed penalty notices for the offence in a week-long campaign. A fresh crackdown is taking place across the country this week.
Sergeant Gary Roper of the West Yorkshire Police Roads Policing Support Unit said; “Targeting motorists who use a mobile phone continues to be a priority for our roads policing teams and something we concentrating on with the imminent change in legislation increasing the penalties for offenders.
“The law banning the use of mobile phones while driving has been in place for well over a decade now but we are still seeing thousands of people each year flouting the law and endangering not only themselves but other road users as well.
“The risks associated with using a phone while behind the wheel are very clear. Any driver will be distracted by a phone call or text message, it affects the ability to concentrate and anticipate the road ahead, putting the driver and other road users at risk
“We are also seeing a growing trend of motorists updating social media, streaming music or videos, checking emails and generally surfing the internet whilst also being in control of a vehicle.
“This is really concerning, as research has shown that research has shown that driving while using a phone makes you four times more likely to be involved in a collision and studies by the Transport Research Laboratory suggest that using a hand-held mobile while driving can be more dangerous than drink-driving.”