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Dozens of drivers flout mobile phone ban in Kent

More than 100 Kent drivers were caught using a mobile phone at the wheel through March, in the wake of tougher punishments being brought in for the offence.

In the four weeks after the harsher sanctions were introduced, police forces across Britain penalised almost 6,000 motorists according to figures obtained by the Press Association, with 125 of them coming from Kent Police.

The findings, which come from a Freedom of Information request, show the equivalent of one driver being stopped for illegal mobile use in the country every seven minutes between March 1-28.

It's a criminal offence to use a mobile phone while driving
It's a criminal offence to use a mobile phone while driving

They also put Kent as having the twelfth highest amount of motorists being caught for the offence during that period.

The Met Police recorded the highest number at 2,037, with Thames Valley Police and Police Scotland in second and third respectively. Seven forces in England and Wales failed to provide a figure.

Since the start of March, those who’ve been caught with a phone behind the wheel have faced six points and a £200. It means that new drivers are at risk of losing their licence for the sake of a single call or text.

Anyone who is caught a second time could now potentially face a £1,000 fine and six-month ban from driving.

Campaigners have described the findings released today as "worrying", and suggest many are ignoring repeated warnings about the dangers.

There are concerns that the risks of using a mobile phone whilst on the road are not yet being taken as seriously as other offences such as drink-driving.

Advice from Kent Police’s website, via ‘Ask The Police’, emphasises that using a mobile whilst driving is a considerable distraction and increases the risk of a motorist being involved in an accident greatly.

A 2015 study by Kent County Council's Road Safety Team found that a third of drivers in the county used their mobile phones while driving, including texting or accessing social networks, despite knowing it was dangerous or illegal.

The group say that whatever the reason for picking up your phone behind the wheel, “nothing is worth risking your own life and the lives of those around you."

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