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Campaigners say safety message still isn't getting through...

A police crackdown on the illegal use of handheld devices while driving saw nearly 6,000 motorists hit with new penalties of a £200 fine and six penalty points on their driving licences – a rate of around 200 people a day.

Campaigners saying that drivers are still not deterred from breaking the law.

The figures, which cover Great Britain, were obtained by the Press Association under a Freedom of Information request, reports BBC News.

The introduction of stiffer penalties – previously, drivers were subject to a £100 fine and three penalty points – was accompanied by extensive national and local publicity.

A number of police forces inviting the press along to events coinciding with the launch where law-breaking motorists were caught and fined.

> Drivers ignore tougher mobile phone penalties as police across Great Britain launch crackdowns

The new laws also see motorists found using a phone within two years of passing their driving test have their licence revoked.

But Steve Gooding off the RAC Foundation said the figures showed that the "key message still isn't sinking in.

"Driving is a safety-critical activity that requires our full attention. Hands need to be on the wheel and eyes looking out of the windscreen, not down at the phone screen.”

Road safety charity Brake said that the increased penalties were still not enough to deter some motorists from breaking the law.

Its spokesman Jack Kushner said: "Driver distraction is a growing menace and it's worrying that drivers don't seem to be getting the message.”.

Research by road.cc published last year showed that in England and Wales in the whole of 2015, just 16,861 fixed penalty notices were issued to drivers caught using a handheld device at the wheel – a tenth of the number fined for the same offence a decade earlier.

> Number of drivers fined for using mobile phone plummets

Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.