In just one week, nearly 8,000 motorists were caught driving while using a mobile phone, according to UK police. 

Officers across England, Northern Ireland and Wales handed out  7,966 fixed penalty notices during a week-long crackdown on distracted drivers in November – the equivalent of 47 an hour. 

The figures are more than three times higher than similar week-long campaigns in 2015 and 2016, though the scale of this crackdown was larger. The officers also recorded 117 other distraction offences, such as eating while driving. 

The current punishment for driving while using a mobile phone is a £100 fine and three penalty points, however the Department for Transport has announced plans to introduce tougher laws, including doubling the fine and amount of points on an offending drivers’ licence. 

There are also calls for tougher punishments on drivers who cause fatal accidents because they were distracted by a phone, following a number of high profile offences. In August 2016, lorry driver Tomasz Kroker killed a mother and three children while distracted by his mobile phone. 

Paul Brown, a senior serious injury solicitor at Thompsons Solicitors said: “The serious consequences of driving while distracted are well documented, yet continue to be ignored by many, who treat using a mobile phone while driving as a bad habit instead of a dangerous crime that costs lives.

 “While we welcome an increased police presence and greater effort to penalise offenders, the number of drivers caught flouting the law implies the message is simply not being taken seriously. 

“Using a mobile phone while driving needs to be deemed as socially unacceptable as drink driving and other serious motor offences. Better education about the dangers of driving while distracted and harsher punishments for reckless drivers must be seriously considered by the government if we are to see a reduction in the number of people who put lives at risk to use their phone at the wheel.”