The number of drivers using hand-held mobile phones has increased since the introduction of tougher penalties two years ago, a new report in the UK has revealed.

The current figure stands at 2.8% of car drivers compared with 2.6% in 2006, when fines were increased.

The study conducted by Transport Research Laboratory (TRL) on over 14,000 vehicles at 30 sites in London found that the figure almost halved to 1.4% in 2007, a year after the fine was doubled to £60 and three points were put on offenders’ licences, but this has been rising ever since.

The findings were the same for taxi and van drivers who were also shown to be more likely to use hand-held mobile phones than they were before the penalties were made tougher.

According to TRL, research has shown that drivers using mobile phones are four times more likely to crash.