Nearly 500 drivers a day are being caught for using a hand-held mobile phone while behind the wheel.

Ministry of Justice figures show the number is rising, with 30% more fines issued in 2006 than in the previous year.

A study by Workplace Law has shown that companies with driving at work policies are split equally between those that issue hands free kits, and those that ban the use of phones while driving.

While hands free kits are not illegal, “research shows that drivers using mobile phones or hands free kits are four times more likely to have an accident”, according to a spokesman for the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents.