POLL: Should the penalty for using a mobile phone when driving be an automatic ban?

This driver was spotted using his phone at the wheel in Portsmouth on the day that the increased penalties were introduced
This driver was spotted using his phone at the wheel in Portsmouth on the day that the increased penalties were introduced

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NEARLY 200 drivers were caught in a police crackdown on drivers using mobile phones at the wheel.

It’s the first figure issued by police since tougher penalties were introduced at the start of March and leads to the question: Should penalties be made tougher still?

The number caught in the week after tougher penalties - six points and a £200 fine - were brought in on March 1, was less than those caught in a week-long operation in January. But police say they’re disappointed that the drop was not greater.

In all, 186 people were stopped for using mobile phones and nine were reported for not being in proper control.

That is around 15 per cent fewer than the 220 caught for using their phones and six for not being in control in January.

Sergeant Rob Heard, Road Safety Sergeant for Hampshire Constabulary, said: ‘Although we have seen a small decrease in the number of people using their mobile phones whilst driving it is still disappointing and shocking that people will take that risk.

‘That moment’s inattention has shown to be the cause for many collisions, some with fatal consequences.

‘We all need to take the responsibility to remove the temptation of looking at your phone whilst driving.

‘You can do this easily by turning your phone off and putting it in the glove box.

‘Please let’s not have another avoidable death or injury on our roads, it’s not worth the risk.’

Figures show 78 per cent of those caught were men. And 70 per cent were over 25.

Two per cent were summonsed to court and 90 per cent were given penalty notices The rest got warnings. The majority were car drivers, and most happened on urban roads.