POLICE have launched a crackdown on rogue drivers using mobile phones behind the wheel across Sussex.
The campaign was launched on Monday to reduce the number of crashes caused by drivers being distracted by their handsets.
It coincided with national Road Safety Week, organised by the road safe charity Brake, which this year is focusing on preventing tragedies that happen because motorists try to multitask at the wheel.
Drivers caught using a hand-held phone at the wheel to call or text face a fixed penalty notice of £100 and three points.
Those who cause a crash and kill someone while using a phone face up to 14 years in prison.
Across the country more than half a million drivers have points on their licences for using their mobile phones at the wheel.
Sergeant Stewart Goodwin said: “New research suggests making phone calls using a hands-free device is just as dangerous as holding a phone, because of the driver is distracted by the conversation.
“Texting, emailing, adjusting sat navs, eating, drinking and smoking at the wheel also distract drivers and make them react slower to events around them.
“That can mean the difference between you braking in time to avoid a collision and hitting a car, a cyclist or a pedestrian.
“No phone call is so important that it is worth taking someone’s life.”
It is believed that around one in five crashes could be caused, at least in part, by drivers being distracted.
Julie Townsend, the deputy chief executive of Brake, said: “We’re living in an age when being constantly connected is the norm. More and more of us have smartphones, and find it hard to switch off, even for a minute.
“While there are enormous benefits to this new technology, it’s also posing dangerous temptations to drivers to divert their concentration away from the critical task at hand, often putting our most vulnerable road users in danger.”