Dubai: A more stringent fine should be imposed on people using their phones when driving, a Dubai Police official said on Wednesday.

Col Saif Muhair Al Mazroui, Director of Dubai Traffic Police, said that the current fine is Dh200 and four black points, which he said does not seem to be a deterrent, as they have seen an increase of this violation in the past three years.

“The Federal Traffic Council had previously recommended that the penalty be increased to Dh1,000, 12 black points, and impounding of the vehicle for a period of 30 days,” he said.

His comments came at the launch of a campaign on Wednesday to raise awareness of the dangers of using a mobile phone while driving, which will run until February 18. “Some people think that speaking on the phone when driving is a violation, but that it is OK to text, take selfies or use the phone is OK — it isn’t.” he said.

In 2015, Dubai Police recorded 49,643 cases of people using their mobile phones while driving, an increase from 45,499 in 2014. In 2013, 35,734 cases were recorded.

There were also 140 people caught on Dubai Police radars using their mobile phones in 2015.

He added that people should also not use their mobile phone when stationary at a traffic light, as it is also a violation.

“If someone does not understand the danger of using a mobile phone when driving, it does not matter how much the fine is or how much they are warned. It is a mindset and it needs to be changed through awareness,” he said.

He said they have had cases where a man was cut out of his car holding his cellphone.

“The man was crushed and died on impact, but when they were cutting him out, his mobile was in his hand,” Col Al Mazroui said.

He added that they cannot determine a hundred per cent that an accident was caused by someone who was distracted by their mobile phones, but in some cases it would be the only explanation. “For instance there was a driver who crashed into a truck. There were no skid marks, so the driver did not even attempt to stop the vehicle — probably because he was distracted by his phone.”

In 2015 there were 1,216 complaints from people on “We are all police” for people using their mobile phones when driving, an increase from 946 in 2014.

The awareness campaign will include lectures at schools, awareness messages on social media, distribution of brochures at malls and a radio competition, he said.