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MOTORISTS are being urged to turn off their mobile phones while driving as part of a campaign by police.

Sussex Police is running a week of operations from today to try to cut the number of crashes caused by drivers being distracted by their handsets.

The campaign coincides with national Road Safety Week, organised by the charity Brake, which this year is focusing on preventing tragedies that happen because motorists try to multi-task at the wheel.

Drivers caught using a hand-held phone at the wheel to call or text face a fixed penalty notice of £100 and three points. Those who cause a crash and kill someone while using a phone face up to 14 years in prison.

Across the country more than half a million drivers have points on their licences for using their mobile phones at the wheel.

Sergeant Stewart Goodwin said: ‘New research suggests making phone calls using a hands-free device is just as dangerous as holding a phone, because the driver is distracted by the conversation.

‘Texting, emailing, adjusting sat navs, eating, drinking and smoking at the wheel also distract drivers and make them react slower to events around them.

‘That can mean the difference between you braking in time to avoid a collision and hitting a car, a cyclist or a pedestrian.

‘No phone call is so important that it is worth taking someone’s life.’