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Fewer drivers fined for phone use

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The proportion of drivers using hand-held mobile phones at the wheel has increased, but the number being punished and incurring penalty points which reflect on their car insurance premium has fallen, it has emerged.

There was a 5% fall in the number of fixed-penalty notices issued for the offence by police, to 116,000 in 2008, from 122,000. The figure stood at 167,000 two years previously.

According to a survey carried out for the Department of Transport last October, the proportion of car drivers using hand-held mobiles had increased from 1.1% to 1.4%, compared with a year before. The figure had increased from 2.2% to 2.6% for lorry and van drivers.

In February 2007, drivers caught using hand-held mobiles began to receive three penalty points on their licence and the fixed-penalty fined doubled from £30 to £60. Using a hand-held mobile while driving was introduced as a specific offence in 2003.

Andrew Howard, head of road safety for the AA, said: "A more visible deterrent is needed. It would be useful to have signs saying 'you have just been through a mobile phone check'."

© Press Association 2010