DRIVERS have been warned to keep off their phones as police crack down on mobile use behind the wheel.
The campaign will be carried out by officers in County Durham from Monday for two weeks.
Last year, a total of 1,822 drivers were prosecuted for using their mobile phones.
Those caught could receive a £60 fixed penalty notice, and have their licence endorsed with three penalty points.
The fine can rise to £1,000 if it goes to court, and potentially £2,500 if the person was driving a bus, coach or heavy goods vehicle.
Inspector Mick Robson, from the Cleveland and Durham Specialist Operations Unit, said: “Drivers aged 17 to 24 years are most at risk of being involved in a crash, and with technology such as emails and social networking being readily available on smart phones, as well as texting and making calls, there is more chance that people could be distracted by their mobiles.
“Driving your car requires and deserves your full attention. To do anything other than that puts your life, the lives of any passengers and other road users at risk.
“I ask all drivers to switch your phones off, or ignore them until you find a safe place to stop where you can return any calls that have been missed. It’s surely better to do that than risk the alternative.”