TEN motorists a day have been caught using their mobiles at the wheel in the seven months since tough new laws were introduced north of the border.
Despite the threat of six points and a 200 point fine, 2,220 Scots drivers were caught flouting the ban between March 1 and 30 September.
The figures, released by Police Scotland, show that the north east of Scotland is the worst area for offending based on population.
Greater Glasgow had the largest number of offences at 335 but the north east, with a population of 333,000 compared with Glasgow’s 770,000, was only just behind at 329.
Edinburgh was in third place with 263 drivers caught.
Under new legislation introduced this year drivers caught could be issued with six points and a £200 fine. In more serious cases, police officers have powers to prosecute drivers for careless or dangerous driving.
An estimated total of £444,000 could have been collected from the the 2,220 drivers caught since the new legislation was brought in.
The data showed that Argyll and Bute had the lowest rate of offenders, with just 63 being caught over six months.
RAC spokesman Rod Dennis said: “These figures show that a hard core of drivers continue to believe they can drive a vehicle while using a handheld phone, when the evidence and enough tragic crashes in recent months clearly show otherwise.
“Data released in September shone a light on just how much of a problem illegal phone use at the wheel has become, with the number of deaths in 2016 at a five-year high with 35 deaths, which was a 60% increase on 2015 when there were 22.
“It is going to take a concerted effort by government, the police and road safety bodies to bring about a step change and make driving while using a handheld phone socially unacceptable. But drivers also need to take more individual responsibility when they get behind the wheel and realise that when they pick up a phone and start using it they are making a choice to do so. They can equally make a choice to leave the phone alone, concentrate fully on the task of driving and make our roads safer as a result.”
An AA spokesman said: “The problem is that people think they can get away with using a mobile phone behind the wheel.
“Unless there are more police on the roads, people will continue to use their mobiles phones becuase the chances of behing caught are so slim.
“If or when there is a fatal accident however when someone is using a mobile, a judge or court will throw the book at them.
“When a phone is on the seat next to a driver and rings, they just can’t resist picking up to have a look, it’s force of habit.”
Chief Superintendent Stewart Carle, Head of Road Policing for Police Scotland, said: “Driving requires your full attention. It is absolutely essential that people concentrate on their driving rather than talking on their mobile phone.
“At the end of the day, is the call that important that it is worth risking your life for? Better to switch the phone off and pick up any missed calls or texts when it is safe and convenient to do so.
“You could either be the victim or the one who causes a crash or a death. My advice, don’t risk it.”
Latest statistics show that mobile phone use is a factor in an average of two deaths on the roads every month in the UK, with 124 people losing their lives over the past five years and 521 suffering a serious injury.
At the weekend the supermarket chain Waitrose said it was investigating a driver after he was filmed talking on a mobile phone while behind the wheel.
The astonishing footage showed the driver having an animated and lengthy conversation while driving on the A90 south of Aberdeen at about 3pm on Saturday – the area with the highest offences.
The four highest areas were –
Great Glasgow: 335
North East: 329
The four lowest ares were:
Dumfries and Galloway: 114
Renfrewshire and Inverclyde: 112
Argyll and West Dunbartonshire: 63