Number of motorists prosecuted over phone use soars

THE number of motorists taken to court for using hand-held mobile phones while driving has more than trebled in a year, figures published yesterday showed.

By last month some 2,122 drivers had been prosecuted in the most serious cases, compared to just 625 a year ago. Greater police enforcement of the law, which was introduced in December 2003, is thought to have fuelled the increase. Motoring groups said the addition of penalty points and a doubling of fines to 60 later this year would be a much more significant deterrent.

Figures supplied by Colin Boyd, the Lord Advocate, to Brian Adam, the Aberdeen North SNP MSP, showed the largest increases were in Fife, up from six to 52 cases, in Dumfries and Galloway, from ten to 62, and Central from 50 to 198. Cases in Lothian and Borders were up from 71 to 274, Strathclyde from 326 to 1,014, Tayside from 91 to 330, Grampian from 53 to 137 and Northern from 18 to 56.

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Mr Adam said he had raised the issue after a constituent was involved in a near miss with a driver using a hand-held phone.

He said: "I was not expecting the figures to be so high, but they show the law is beginning to bite. I hope it will not take too long to see the number of cases dropping."

Neil Greig, the head of policy in Scotland for the AA Motoring Trust, said: "There have been increased enforcement efforts by the police, but it appears a lot of hand-held mobile use is still happening.

"Drivers are no longer ignorant of the law - they just do not think they will get caught. I hope adding penalty points to the offence will lead to a marked reduction in cases."

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