23/01/2017 13:20 GMT | Updated 23/01/2017 13:23 GMT

In A Single Week Nearly 8,000 Drivers Were Caught Using Their Phones

It's one of the leading causes of collisions in the UK.

Police caught nearly 8,000 drivers using their phones behind the wheel, during a week-long crackdown on distraction driving.

The operation in November nearly tripled the previous record for the number of drivers issued with fixed penalty notices for the offence.

The figures are published as forces around the UK begin a fresh crackdown on the use of mobiles while driving.

Chief constable Suzette Davenport, National Police Chiefs’ Council road policing chief said forces “will make driving distracted as socially unacceptable as drink driving” by enforcing “strong” deterrents.

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Officers are set to patrol drivers using unmarked vans, high vantage points and helmet cams, while a media campaign warns drivers of the risks of using mobiles while driving.

Mobile phone usage is one the primary causes of collisions in the UK, with more than 492 accidents involving phones in 2014, 21 of which were fatal.

But despite the figures, the use of phones behind the wheel is soaring. An RAC survey of 1,714 Brits found that 31 per cent had taken a call while behind the wheel in 2015, up from 8 per cent in 2014.

Meanwhile, the number of motorists who confessed to sending a message or using social media while driving rose from 7% to 19%.

The government has announced plans to double the punishment for illegal mobile phone use while driving from £100 to £200 and three to six penalty points. Proposals also include life sentences for people who cause death while driving