Sussex Police today welcomed the launch of a campaign to discourage drivers from using mobile phones at the wheel.

But at the same time it has exposed the fact that police officers are particularly at risk from electronic distractions while driving.

Patrol car drivers now have an array of communications equipment, video cameras and hands-free phones in their vehicles.

Officers can find themselves talking on a radio and videoing a speeding car as they negotiate roads.

The force said research into the effects of such distractions on drivers was still in its infancy.

Inspector Andy Rooke, of the Sussex Police traffic department, said: "It is something we are monitoring very closely."

Meanwhile, the force is backing a campaign by the Institute of Advanced Motorists to dissuade drivers from using hand-held mobile phones while driving.

Last year there were 110 crashes in Sussex caused by distractions, including wasps, flies, and the use of mobile phones.

Mr Rooke said mobile phones were not the most serious cause of accidents but numbers were likely to increase as the use of the phones becomes more widespread.

The institute's campaign was launched yesterday by former Conservative road safety minister Steve Norris.

The campaign, called "Don't talk to phoney drivers", follows Mr Norris's recent appointment to the Council of the Institute of Advanced Motorists.

Mr Norris said: "A little assertiveness could literally save a life. The public supports our efforts to curb mobile phone abuse in the car but it is still too widespread.

"We have dubbed these drivers 'phoney' to make a point. By dividing their concentration between the phone call and the road ahead, how can they be real drivers? They are often physically incapable of driving properly."

The campaign comes a week after figures confirming that there are now more than 30 million mobile phones in use in the UK.

The Transport Department does not compile figures on road traffic victims who are killed or seriously injured as a consequence of using mobile phones at the wheel.