UNSUSPECTING drivers using their phones were caught out by police hiding in plain sight today.

Officers from Thames Valley and Hampshire’s Joint Operations Roads Policing Unit travelled in and around Oxford on a double-decker Stagecoach bus on the lookout for those breaking the law.

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The higher vantage point allowed road safety constables Liz Johnson and Dave Mitchell a perfect view of offending drivers, their details then radioed to officers on motorbikes who pulled over the motorists and issued them with six points on their licence and a £200 fine.

Sgt Rob Heard, who was one of the 'stoppers' along with PC Stephen Eadsforth, said this was the first operation of its kind locally, though police have previously used a lorry to get a better view of vehicles.

Four drivers were caught on their phones over the course of the morning, and the officer said they were 'shocked' to discover they had been seen, with people often trying to make excuses.

Oxford Mail: One of the driver's pulled over by police during the operationOne of the driver's pulled over by police during the operation

PC Mitchell said attitudes were changing over mobile phone use, however, explaining: "When we stopped people last week we actually offered them the chance to speak to the press there and then and every single one of them refused and every single one of them gave the reason 'It's just too embarrassing.

"It's embarrassing enough to be caught but I'd hate my family and friends to find out.'"

PICTURES: Did we catch you driving while on your mobile phone?

It comes after a major new road safety campaign across Oxfordshire was launched to combat shocking figures that show 90 per cent of crashes were due to a 'fatal four' factors.

Not wearing a seatbelt, distraction - commonly caused by mobile phone use, speeding and drink and drugs have been linked to between 20 and 30 deaths on the county's roads every year for the past ten years.

Oxford Mail:

In the Thames Valley, since 2014, there have been 83 people killed or seriously injured as a result of drivers using their mobile phones.

A more traditional police enforcement operation was carried out along Botley Road on Wednesday and PC Johnson said nine drivers were caught in two hours.

It wasn't just motorists on mobiles that were stopped by police during today's bus operation, a lorry driver was pulled over on the M40 after officers saw him reading while at the wheel, and another driver was stopped for not wearing a seat belt – one of the 'fatal four'.

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The lorry driver was issued with a three point penalty and £100 fine, the seat belt offence £100 or an online road safety course.

Sgt Heard said: "It is disappointing that we have caught so many people still taking that risk. People need to remember that a moments inattention can have tragic consequences.

"We can't be everywhere but we can be anywhere."

He added the forces were also employing technology as an 'educational tool' for motorists.

Oxford Mail:

Thames Valley and Hampshire’s Joint Operations Roads Policing Unit have become the first in the country to utilise trailblazing tech which flashes when a driver uses a phone without hands-free kit.

Two have been installed in Oxfordshire, the first on the A34 and another on Botley Road.

ALSO READ: Six terrible crashes caused by the 'fatal four'

The Stagecoach bus will also be out this week in other parts of the region as part of the It's Not Worth It  campaign, which is specifically targeting mobile phone use while driving.