More drivers are caught using a phone behind the wheel in London than in any other area of the country, according to new analysis of government figures.

The investigation by vehicle finance provider Moneybarn found that the City of London and the metropolitan area as a whole saw the highest numbers of fixed penalty notices (FPNs) dished out for the offence per inhabitant during the year to March 2018. The City of London recorded 1,427 fines per 100,000 residents, while the surrounding metropolitan area saw 228 fines meted out per 100,000 inhabitants.

However, Cheshire, in the north-west of England, saw the third-highest number of fines per capita, with 181 fixed penalty notices per 100,000 residents. West Mercia, in the west of England, came in fourth, with 164 FPNs per 100,000 people, while Norfolk and Suffolk rounded out the top five with 154 FPNs per 100,000 inhabitants.

Woman on mobile phone whilst driving

At the opposite end of the scale, the Avon and Somerset region, in the south-west of England, had the lowest ratio of FPNs for mobile phone use, with just 37 per 100,000 people. Similarly, second-placed Nottinghamshire saw just 40 FPNs doled out for the offence per 100,000 inhabitants.

Since 2017, using a handheld mobile phone while driving has carried a fixed punishment of six penalty points and a £200 fine - double the previous punishment of three points and a £100 fine. However, Moneybarn’s analysis revealed that just 40 percent of fines are paid, with Humberside recording the lowest proportion of fully paid fines, at just seven percent.

Stressed man swearing and talking on phone while driving

And some areas are significantly more likely to see fines cancelled, with some regions scrapping around a sixth of the fines they dish out. For example, Warwickshire cancelled 16 percent of the fines it issued in the year to March 2018, while South Wales cancelled 13 percent of its fines. However, Northumbria cancelled a staggering 40 percent of all the fines it handed out.

Tim Schwarz, the head of marketing at Moneybarn, said the findings showed a need to stamp out phone use behind the wheel.

“Despite introducing new penalties for offending drivers, there are still so many using their mobile phones at the wheel,” he said. “It’s clear there’s still more required from the relevant authorities to bring down these numbers. Even tougher penalties are in discussion – like MP’s current call for use of hands-free devices to be made illegal – to eliminate the ‘dial and drive’ mentality for good.”

Woman using smartphone with both hands while driving car