More than a third of UK police forces are using their mobile safety camera vans to prosecute drivers not wearing seatbelts or using a handheld mobile phone.

Road safety group IAM RoadSmart issued Freedom of Information requests to 44 police forces and found that 16 of them use the pictures from the cameras in their vans to pursue these offences as a matter of routine, with a further four doing so occasionally.

During 2016, these 16 police forces recorded more than 8,000 unbelted drivers collectively and around 1,000 motorists with a mobile in their hand.

This heightened level of enforcement will come as good news to the four in five motorists who believe their fellow drivers have become increasingly distracted by their phones in the last three years.

IAM RoadSmart’s research also shows that drivers consider the enforcement of mobile phone laws as the second most important road traffic policing priority behind drink and drug driving, while seatbelt use ranked sixth.

Sarah Sillars, chief executive officer of IAM RoadSmart, said that drivers should be reassured that the police are using all the tools available to address their biggest concerns.

“For too many drivers, it is only the fear of being caught that will stop them putting themselves and others at risk from smartphone distraction,” she commented.  

“If drivers don’t know about this added enforcement technique then its impact will be reduced so the police should have no hesitation in publicising its use.”

Ben Robb, brand manager at The Fuelcard People, added: “Many drivers would have been disappointed by the news that the bulk of fixed site speed cameras don’t even work, so this more agile approach may make up for that.”

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