POLICE issued a new warning to drivers today to get off the phone.

The penalty for using a handheld phone while driving is a £60 fine and three penalty points.

As well as being illegal to use a phone at the wheel it is also highly dangerous as driver reaction times are dramatically reduced.

Dorset Police have made a film to help get the message across which can be viewed on the Dorset Echo website.

It features interviews with members of the public stopped for using a phone while driving.

Traffic officer Sergeant Nikki Fawkes, who also appears in the film, said: "People seem to forget that driving is a skill that requires full concentration.

"Even if you are a careful driver it's easy to be distracted by a phone call or text message.

"It is vitally important that as soon as you are behind the wheel, you concentrate on only one thing - the road ahead."

Research has shown that driver reaction times can slow down by 50 per cent when using a handheld phone.

Sgt Fawkes added: "Our message is very simple - it is not acceptable to pick up the phone while driving. Wait until it is convenient to pull over safely, or when you have arrived at your destination, before making or taking calls.

"In addition, callers have a responsibility in keeping the roads safe. If the person on the phone is driving then hang up and speak to them later."

Police say the warning also applies to anyone thinking of sending or reading a text message while driving which could be even more dangerous.

Employers should not put pressure on employees to make or receive calls while driving.

Sgt Fawkes said: "We are determined to make our roads safer and will continue to target motorists who put themselves and others in a dangerous position by using a phone behind the wheel.

"We urge drivers to support us by choosing the safe option of not using a mobile phone at all while driving. Callers can help by ensuring they do not phone someone they know is driving, or hang up as soon as they realise."