Published: 00:01, 01 March 2017
Drivers who use mobile phones at the wheel face tougher punishments... and officers in Kent caught one driver within hours of the law coming into effect.
KMTV went on patrol with Kent Police to gain an insight into the scale of the problem on the county's roads.
In just 90 minutes, we caught nine drivers illegally using devices - here's a rare glimpse into how these offenders were caught.
Police say drivers' obsessions with their gadgets are putting lives at risk.
VIDEO: Police pull over drivers caught on the phone
Today marks the introduction of stronger punishments for those caught using their mobile phones at the wheel.
Distracted drivers will now get six points on their licence instead of three, and have to pay a £200 fine instead of the old price of £100.
And within hours of the law coming into effect today, offices on patrol in West Street, Ashford had already caught one driver and handed them six points and a £200 fine.
But it's not just aimed at drivers talking on the phone - texting, using social media, changing a song or adjusting the sat nav are all included in this offence.
KentOnline went on a patrol on the M20 with officers in an unmarked vehicle - within four minutes of leaving the base at Cold Harbour a driver was caught on the phone.
In the 90 minutes we were in the vehicle, nine people were caught using the phone - on average one every 10 minutes.
Another driver who was caught was not wearing a seatbelt whilst using a phone. When police ran checks on the man's vehicle he was also found to have no insurance.
Sgt Christopher Wade is on the serious collision investigating team.
He said: "The government and the police as a whole have been pushing for some time the dangers of using mobile phones whilst driving.
"It’s well documented and there aren’t really any people that could deny that they didn’t know that was an offence but still people feel compelled to use their phones and the problem - from my own point of view - my own perspective, is that we’re just addicted to our devices.
"If it goes off people can’t resist the temptation, the urge to look at it. They’re compelled to look at that message, to answer that call. They can’t let it go."
The driver, aged in his 20s, was issued with a traffic offence report for "not being in proper control of a vehicle".
Sgt Wade continued: "The most common phrase you hear as soon as you stop someone on the phone is ‘oh I was just'... ‘I was just checking’... ‘I was just making a…’.... ‘I was just telling them that I couldn’t talk’.
"But those couple of seconds could be the critical seconds, and that’s all it takes. That moment’s distraction, not looking here you might as well drive with your eyes closed.
"No one would do that so why would they think they can drive around looking at something other than what’s in front of them.
"We’ve got some way to go with mobile phones. There’s still so many people that do it. We need to get over that cultural barrier and let it be as unacceptable as drink driving."
Figures released by the government in October last year revealed more than 4,000 motorists received penalties for using phones at the wheel in the Kent five years ago - compared to less than 220 in 2015.
More than 50 lorries, vans, and cars were stopped during a 5-day operation to target distracted drivers in January.