New data shows there has been an increase in the proportion of car drivers using handheld mobile phones since 2017.
The results of an observation survey, carried out by the Government in the autumn of 2021, found 0.8% of car drivers committing the offence.
This compares to 0.6% in 2017.
That year, penalties for mobile phone offences increased, doubling to six points and a £200 fine.
The RAC says when the Government stiffens penalties, there is a drop in offences – “before old habits begin to creep back in again”.
The breakdown organisation is also calling for the widespread use of mobile enforcement technology – similar to that being trialled by National Highways.
Nicholas Lyes, RAC head of roads policy, said: “It’s concerning that there has been an increase in the proportion of drivers observed using handheld mobile phones at the wheel since 2017.
“Historically, when the Government stiffens penalties, there is a drop in illegal phone use before old habits begin to creep back in again.
“While many drivers would like to see the penalties increased further, we believe the Government should be rolling out new camera enforcement technology similar as is already used in several other countries such as Australia and the Netherlands.
“We believe this technology would be an important tool for reducing the number of unnecessary lives tragically lost on our roads each year because of this dangerous and illegal habit.”
Observations were made from video captured at a total of 90 ‘stationary’ sites (for example, at traffic light junctions) across England, Scotland and Wales.
They also found that 2.2% of HGV drivers were using a mobile phone, as were 1.9% of LGV drivers.
In terms of age, young car drivers (17-29 years) recorded the highest percentage (1.4%) – compared to 1.1% among middle-aged drivers (30-59 years) and 0.2% among older drivers (60 years plus).
James Gibson, executive director of Road Safety GB, said: “DfT should be congratulated for undertaking this survey work. The data is useful in helping to target behaviour change interventions at specific groups identified such as younger male drivers and higher phone use by drivers of lorries and vans.
“Targeting messages is important as it allows resources to be more efficiently used and directed to those that need to change their attitude and behaviour.”