MOTORISTS using mobile phones while driving are targeted in a police crackdown launched on Monday.

Greater Manchester police are using "spotters" to catch drivers using their phones illegally and will be issuing fixed penaly tickets. In some cases, drivers may face prosecution.

Road Safety Inspector Brian Wood, said: "Most drivers heeded the warnings when the new offence of using a hand held mobile phone came into force.

"This operation is targeted at those who still disregard the message and put other people in danger as a result. As well as using officers in signed vehicles, we will employ "spotters" to identify offenders for uniformed officers to stop further down the road."

"Research shows that drivers are four times more likely to have an accident if they use a mobile phone while driving because of the adverse effect on concentration and anticipation. Hands free calls are also distracting and drivers should be aware that they risk prosecution for careless or dangerous driving or failing to have proper control of their vehicle, if using a mobile phone affects their driving."

New laws banning the use of a mobile phone while driving came into affect in December 2003. Between January 1 and December 31, 2004, Greater Manchester police issued 6,502 fixed penality notices. The £30 fixed penalty fine can be increased to a maximum of £1,000 for car drivers, and £2,500 for coach, lorry or bus drivers, if the offence is taken to court.