More than 1,500 motorists on Teesside have been fined in the last year for using their mobile phones while driving.
Cleveland Police today slammed the figures, claiming no phone conversation was worth the risk to life involved.
Middlesbrough was the worst offending district with 619 fixed penalty notices issued in the 12 months ending June 30 this year.
It was followed by Stockton with 551 mobile phone offenders, Hartlepool with 235 and Redcar and Cleveland with 137.
The total number of mobile phone driving offences recorded in the Cleveland Police area in the year was 1,542.
Acting Inspector Gary Hatton, head of Cleveland Police Road Policing Unit, said: “It is well known and accepted that using your mobile phone while driving is a major contributory factor to collisions and this is why it is an offence.
“Even using a hands-free kit can still be a distraction to the driver.
“Our message is to not use your phone at all, switch off your phone before you start driving and pick up any messages at the other end.”
Acting Insp Hatton said there remained a “hardcore” of motorists on Teesside who continue to flout the law by using their phones when behind the wheel.
“It is unacceptable that they would endanger their own life and other people’s lives by doing this,” he added.
“We see first hand the misery that these collisions cause and we want to prevent those crashes occurring.”
The law changed in February 2007, making drivers caught using phones while driving liable to a £60 fixed penalty fine and three penalty points on their licence.
If the fine is not paid within 28 days the case will go to court and the penalty can be increased to £90.
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