Fewer drivers are being punished for using hand-held mobile phones at the wheel despite the scale of the problem increasing, it has emerged.
The number of fixed-penalty notices issued by the police for the offence fell by 5% to 116,000 in 2008, from 122,000, according to Home Office figures.
The figure previously stood at 167,000.
The proportion of drivers using hand-held mobiles had increased compared with a year before, from 1.1% to 1.4% for car drivers, and from 2.2% to 2.6% for van and lorry drivers, according to a survey carried out for the Department for Transport last October.
Using a hand-held mobile while driving became a specific offence in 2003.
The fixed-penalty fine for offenders doubled in February 2007 to £60, and for the first time those caught using hand-held mobiles would get three penalty points on their licence.
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