The RAC has suggested that the hand-held mobile phone problem could get worse on the back of new figures highlighting a fall in traffic police.
The figures, obtained by the Press Association via a Freedom of Information (FOI) request, show that the number of dedicated traffic police has reduced by around 30% over the last decade.
FOI requests were sent to all 45 police forces, with 30 providing figures. These reveal there are currently 2,643 traffic officers, compared to 3,766 in 2007.
With a 24% reduction since 2012, the figures also show that the deterioration in numbers is escalating.
Since March 1, drivers who flout the law on mobile phone use have faced six points on their licence and a £200 fine – a doubling of the previous punishment on both counts.
However, the RAC says that with fewer officers on the lookout for law-breakers, it is feasible that offenders will never be effectively deterred from what is almost universally considered to be a highly-dangerous practice.
Rod Dennis, RAC spokesman, said: “Illegal mobile phone use at the wheel has been a growing problem in the UK and those that persist in breaking the law need to know there is a real threat of getting caught.
“We welcomed the tougher penalties that came in earlier this year, but to be effective they must be backed up by rigorous enforcement.”
Mr Dennis stressed that police forces are “doing their best under difficult circumstances” but warns that the reduction in dedicated roads police officers “risks allowing the epidemic of using a hand-held phone at the wheel to continue or even worsen”.
He added: “The public is entitled to question whether the Government is allocating enough resources to keeping our roads safe.”