Drivers on the phone go unpunished

The number of fines issued to motorists caught using their mobile phone while driving has tumbled despite growing evidence that more people than ever are prepared to ignore the law.

Information released by the Home Office showed that 116,000 were given a fixed penalty notice for the offense last year - that figure has dropped by 30 percent in two years.

Motorists who flout the law are risking a £60 fine and three penalty points on their license, but road safety campaigners insist that the rules are being routinely broken and blame limited police resources for a failure to enforce legislation.

Sarah Fatica, general manager of Brake, the road safety charity, told the Daily Telegraph that: "Police are overstretched and drivers aware that this is the case and many are quite happy to risk lives just to make that phone call.

"People wouldn't chop down a tree with a chain saw while using a mobile phone but think it is perfectly acceptable to get into a large chunk of metal and drive around residential areas using one."

Such is the scale of the problem that it even impacted on the election campaign trail. The Children's Secretary, Ed Balls, was caught on the phone in his car last week. Despite a limp excuse about not wanting to wake his children up, he was issued an on the spot fine.

A Department for Transport study published last year showed that between 2008 and 2009 there had been a 27 per cent rise in phone use at the wheel.
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