The number of drivers caught has dropped since March.

Road safety charity Brake says that penalties for illegal use of a phone while driving aren't being enforced properly. As of March this year, drivers faced a £200 fine and six penalty points for using a phone while behind the wheel − double what they used to be.

Through the Freedom of Information act, Brake has obtained figures from the DVLA that reveal 10,428 drivers in England, Scotland and Wales received six penalty points for illegal mobile phone use in the four-month period between March and June 2017.

After 5,258 drivers received penalties in March 2017, during a nationwide police crackdown, the numbers dropped to under two thousand in each of the following three months.

Also check out:

Number of 'CU80' endorsements with a six-point penalty imposed by month of offence (as at 26 August 2017)

March 2017

April 2017

May 2017

June 2017

Total

5,258

1,865

1,918

1,387

10,428

In the first four months of the heavier penalties, most penalties were handed out in Greater London (2,186), followed by Essex (580), the West Midlands (372), Hampshire (348) and Kent (308). A total of 736 drivers in Scotland and 392 in Wales also received six points in the same period.

The increased penalties also meant that new drivers faced losing their licences if they were caught using their phone behind the wheel. The figures show that 104 new drivers in Britain lost their licence for the offence in March, but just 36 in April and 22 in June.

 

Number of 'CU80' endorsements which resulted in the new driver being revoked under the New Drivers Act (NDA) by month of offence (as at 26 August 2017)

March 2017

April 2017

May 2017

June 2017

Total

104

36

32

22

194

The figures also show that mobile phone use was a factor in 478 collisions on British roads last year, an increase of 26 percent since 2012.

Of course, it is entirely plausible that the increased punishments actually led to less people using their phones behind the wheel. Nevertheless, Brake has launched an attack on the police, insisting that they're not doing enough to enforce the laws.

'Illegal mobile phone use at the wheel is a growing menace to road safety. Given the scale of the problem, the fact that so few drivers have received points is deeply troubling. Tougher laws are a big step forwards, but they must be accompanied by rigorous enforcement if they are to work. It's essential that police forces send out a clear message that drivers who flout the law will be caught and punished,' said Jason Wakeford, director of campaigns at Brake.

'There has been an unacceptable rise in the number of people killed and seriously injured on the roads and enforcement plays a crucial part in improving safety. The Government must treat road policing as a national priority and reverse savage cuts to road traffic officers.'

'Research shows that using a phone behind the wheel affects reaction times as much as drink driving, increasing the chances of a fatal crash. Brake urges motorists to put mobiles on silent and out of reach when in the car, to keep focused on the road,' Wakeford continued. 'Mobile operators and manufacturers must also play their part by including 'opt-out' technology on handsets as standard, to reduce deadly distractions in the first place.'