A UK police force is launching a new campaign to cut the number of crashes caused by drivers using their mobile phone at the wheel.

Officers in Hampshire will be among the first in the UK to use a new detector which can tell when people are holding their phones while driving.

The equipment pinpoints how many motorists on a particular stretch of road are not using a hands-free device, enabling police to target hotspots.

It comes after several fatal incidents in the area involving drivers who were using their phone at the time of the collision or just beforehand.

The new detection equipment will be used by police in Hampshire and the neighbouring Thames Valley force and is already monitoring the A34 in Oxfordshire.

Police say the roadside device can tell when a driver is using his or her mobile phone without Bluetooth.

As well as pinpointing the number of offenders it also flashes a mobile phone symbol at each culprit’s car in a bid to persuade them to obey the law.

People caught using their mobile phone at the wheel can be banned from driving and fined up to £1,000.

PC Liz Johnson said: “Research shows you’re four times more likely to crash if you are using a mobile phone whilst driving.”

On Monday, a week of enforcement and education activity will start across the two policing areas in Hampshire.

The campaign, which will run until April 21, is part of the National Police Chief’s Council campaign.