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Fiercer fines are failing to stop motorists using hand-held mobile phones while driving.
The number of offenders is now higher than the year just before harsher penalties were introduced, statistics reveal.
There were at least 171,000 fixed penalty notices (FPN) for mobile phone offences in 2010/11, according to Freedom of Information requests made to England and Wales police forces by insurance company swiftcover.com.
With two of the 43 forces yet to respond, the 2010/11 figure was higher than the 166,800 total in 2006 - the year before the fine was doubled, with the threat of points going on to licences of offending drivers.
The latest total was also more than double the figure of 74,000 in 2004.
Hampshire Police is one of three forces in the country that have seen an increase.
Swiftcover said its research also showed that 5% of drivers admitted using social networking sites while driving within the past year, with this figure rising to 12% for 18-34 year olds.
Robin Reames, chief claims officer at swiftcover.com, said: "It's clear that current measures to stop motorists using their phones while driving simply aren't working.
"An irresponsible but substantial minority of motorists are continuing to flout laws and endanger others, all for the sake of a phone call that could be taken at another time."