By Oliver Farrimond
CHATTY drivers in Scotland have had to pay up almost £1.2 million this year for using their mobiles while driving.
Scotland’s police forces issued nearly 20,000 statutory notices to careless road users, worth £60 each.
The figures, obtained through a Freedom of Information request, show that police in Strathclyde issued by far the most – including two to their own officers.
However Andrew Howard, head of road safety at AA, said that more should be done to catch careless drivers.
He said: “When you consider that there are millions of drivers in Scotland, and millions of mobile phone users, it’s clear that these fines represent only a fraction of those actually committing the offence.
“Using your phone whilst driving is more than just a distraction – you can lose your peripheral vision, and drivers prosecuted following fatal accidents for mobile phone use can end up in jail.
“And it’s not a distraction when drivers consciously make a decision to make a call whilst driving.
“The difficulty with the mobile phone law is that a lot of people just aren’t aware how dangerous and careless it really is.
“The police could do more to raise awareness in the same way they do for drink-driving.”
Dumfries and Galloway issued the fewest tickets – just 399 – and Fife, Grampian and Northern police forces handed out roughly 2,000 between them.
Tayside Police issued 823 tickets totalling £49,380 in fines – but revealed that so far only around £35,000 had been collected.
Lothian and Borders and Strathclyde police forces issued by far the most fixed penalty notices since 1 January 2009 – 15,654 tickets between them totalling £939,240 between them.
A spokesman for Lothian and Borders Police said: “Lothian and Borders Police is committed to ensuring our roads remain safe and treat all motoring offences extremely seriously.
“The use of a mobile phone distracts drivers from the road, reducing concentration and increasing the chances of being involved in a collision.
“Anyone found using a phone while driving will receive three points on their licence and a fine for £60 under legislation introduced in 2007.”
Chief Inspector Stewart Carle, Strathclyde Road Policing Unit, added: “I cannot emphasise enough the grave risk people are putting themselves, and other road users in by using a mobile phone when driving.
“It’s so important that people concentrate on their driving rather than talking on their mobile phone, a distraction which can impair driving ability in a similar way as alcohol does.
“Our advice is simple: Don’t take the call or read that text message – it may be your last.”