NEARLY 40,000 motorists in the Thames Valley region have been fined for using their mobile phones while driving since 2010.

Offenders have stumped up £272,460 to pay their penalties.

The number of people flouting the law, which states it is illegal to drive or ride a motorbike using hand-held phones or similar devices, has been increasing since 2010.

Using phones while driving is considered a dangerous distraction that can contribute to crashes.

Transport for Bucks said drivers are four times more likely to crash if you use a mobile phone whilst driving, while reaction times are around 50 per cent slower than normal driving.

A split-second lapse in concentration could result in a crash, it added, though specific collision data on mobile phone use is low.

The statistics for the last three whole years show 8,736 drivers were fined in 2010, rising to 11,341 in 2011 and increasing slightly in 2012 to 11,405.

The figures logged up until August show there has been 7,670 so far, making a total of 39,152.

Data was obtained by the Free Press under the Freedom of Information Act.

Anyone caught using their phone while driving, which includes being stopped at traffic lights or queuing in traffic, gets three penalty points on their licence and a £100 fine.

Rosemary Bryant, spokesman for TfB, said: "It is the policy of Bucks County Council that employees must not use a mobile phone to make or receive voice calls, text messages, images, and data or to access the Internet whilst driving on council business.

"This includes those with any type of hands free installation including Bluetooth."

Cases can also go to court leading to a licensing disqualification and a maximum £1,000 fine, or £2,500 for bus or goods vehicles drivers.