Drivers seem to be getting the message that using their mobile phones behind the wheel is unacceptable – with new figures revealing that the number of drivers caught in the south east plummeted by 43 per cent last year.

Almost 6,000 drivers in the region were slapped with fixed penalty notices (FPNs) for using their mobile phone behind the wheel in 2017, down from 10,058 the previous year.

Harsher punishments for using a mobile phone behind the wheel seems to have scared drivers into abiding by the rules, as the number of offenders on the region’s roads has dropped 43 per cent in just one year, following the introduction of tougher penalties for the offence, which doubled to £200 and six penalty points in March 2017.

The new figures, revealed by, come weeks after the Bucks Free Press launched its Hang Up! campaign, urging drivers to think about the dangers of using their phones behind the wheel.

The campaign has been supported by Bucks MPs, Thames Valley Police and district and county councils.  

In total, 30,500 fixed penalty notices were issued to drivers in the UK for using their mobile phone behind the wheel in 2017 compared to 50,000 in 2016.

But while the law change appears to have has had the desired effect of reducing the number of people using their phones behind the wheel, it has also led to authorities pocketing more money.

The figures suggest the amount collected in fines from offenders in the south east has tripled (220 per cent) in 2017.

At least £316,000 was paid in fines by offenders in the region in 2017, up from £98,600 in 2016.

But it is not just the fines that will be stinging motorists - with the punishment now seeing those caught on their phones behind the wheel served six points instead of three, new drivers will lose their licence.

In total, a staggering 157,847 points were dished out to law-breakers throughout last year, with 23,524 endorsements served for six points.

Further research by suggests there are still some grey areas around mobile phones and the law, with more than one in 10 (11 per cent) UK drivers saying they think the law is unclear.

Amanda Stretton, motoring editor at, said: “Since the penalties for using a mobile phone behind the wheel have gone up, it’s encouraging to see it has had the desired effect by reducing the number of motorists committing the offence.

“What’s worrying is so many drivers are still in the dark about what’s legal and what’s not when it comes to using a mobile phone while driving.

“Using a mobile phone while driving can have serious consequences, and drivers may forget that being caught committing the offence could damage their driving record and could bump up their car insurance premium.”