A new campaign clamping down on drivers using mobile phones behind the wheel has been launched in Cambridgeshire today (Monday).

The week-long crackdown, coined Put it Away, will see officers from the Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire Road Policing Unit carry out extra enforcement operations to tackle the issue.

Sergeant Ian Manley said: “Using a mobile phone whilst driving significantly increases your chances of being involved in a serious, even fatal collision.

“I hope this campaign helps to get an important safety message across to the public that using a mobile phone whilst driving is unacceptable. It puts not only your life at risk, but also the lives of others.

“We urge people to turn their phone off before they start their journey and put it away. Even a brief distraction could have serious consequences.”

The operation coincides with a week-long campaign being conducted by the National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC).

The Government has announced plans, in September last year, to double the penalties for being caught using a phone behind the wheel to six points and a £200 fine in 2017. For people who have been driving for less than two years this could mean a ban for one offence.

Matt Staton, of the Peterborough and Cambridgeshire Road Safety Partnership, said: “Over the last 30 years we have seen a big change in attitudes towards drinking and driving, to the point where most people think it is completely unacceptable.

“Using a mobile phone while driving has been shown to have similar effects to being over the limit, so we’d like to see people’s attitudes to the issue change in the same way.”