The number of fines given to drivers for using their mobile phones at the wheel has risen by more than a third.

The AA said a law change and increased use of dashcams has led to the substantial increase in offences.

Home Office figures show Sussex Police handed out 590 fixed penalty notices (FPNs) to people for driving while using a hand-held device in 2022.

This was up from 412 the year before, though people were making few journeys in 2021 due to the pandemic.

In 2022, the fine was paid for 65 per cent of the FPNs handed out in Sussex while two per cent led to driver retraining and court action was required in a further 33 per cent.

Despite this, last year’s levels remained higher than 2019, when 337 FPNs were issued.

Previously, the law stated drivers were guilty of an offence when using the hand-held device for "interactive communication" but this was updated to incorporate any use.

An offence carries a minimum £200 fine and six points on the driver's licence.

Jack Cousens, head of roads policy at the AA, said: "We need drivers to hang up their handsets, rather than play with their phones.

"As well as police forces scheduling targeted enforcement events, the rise in privately owned dashcams means drivers are more likely to be caught handling their mobile phone. The reality is that someone is always watching.

"Private and police-owned cameras are a good part of the toolkit to help prosecute drivers but we do not want to see an over reliance on technology.

“The best way to deter illegal driving behaviours is to increase the number of traffic officers and have a visible presence on our roads."

Nationally, the number of FPNs handed out by all police forces excluding the British Transport Police rose by 34 per cent from 2019 to 38,000 in 2022.

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In 2021, just 20,000 FPNs were issued, with every police force bar one seeing an increase the following year.

RAC road safety spokesman Rod Dennis said far too many drivers are "prepared to put lives at risk by engaging in this dangerous practice".

He added: “Ultimately, we have to make using a handheld phone at the wheel as socially unacceptable as drink-driving."