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20,000 Scots flout mobile-phone driving ban

Police to launch a crackdown on cell phone chat behind the wheel, using license points as a threat.

Scottish police are to launch a crackdown on motorists flouting the mobile-phone driving ban after revealing that 20,000 drivers have been caught chatting while driving north of the border since the law came into force in December 2003.

The law bans the use of handheld mobile phones while driving, but the Association of Police Chief Officers in Scotland, or Acpos, is warning that many motorists are still ignoring the ban.

The widespread flouting of the ban across the United Kingdom has led to proposals in the new Road Safety Bill that will see drivers get three points on their license, as well as a bigger fine of 60 pounds ($105.22).

But that legislation is not expected to be ratified until next year, so Acpos has launched a two-week campaign with Scotland's eight police forces aimed at raising awareness of the dangers of driving while on the phone.

The Scottish forces plan to publish the total number of drivers caught ignoring the ban on Oct. 19 to highlight the extent of the problem.

A recent National Opinion Poll survey of motorists in association with RAC found that drivers who use a mobile phone come second only to motorists who drive too close to the vehicle in front in the most annoying motorway habits.

"Distraction from driving could result in the loss of someone's life," Ian Learmonth, lead on this issue for Acpos, said in a statement. "The law is likely to change soon, which will mean if you are caught, points will be added to your license, so get into the habit of driving legally and safely."

Strathclyde police recorded the highest number of people caught driving with a mobile phone, 10,058, accounting for more than half Scotland's total.

Andy McCue of reported from London.