The Pope has called for authorities to show mercy on drivers who are caught speeding.

Speaking at a meeting with traffic police officials in Italy, Pope Francis called on the authorities to have sympathy for those who "break the rules of the road".

He said that the police needed to focus on why a driver was speeding, rather than the offence itself.

"Mercy is not a sign of weakness," he said. "Nor does it require giving up the use of force."

The Pope admitted that life on the roads was difficult and that motorists these days were faced with an "increasingly complex and tumultuous" situation.

The Argentine cited how people often were caught speeding during their busy lives, which create a culture of "haste" and "competitiveness".

He said that this hasty attitude had made people view drivers as as "obstacles or adversaries to be overtaken, transforming the streets into Formula One tracks".

Hoever, despite his calls for a more relaxed view on those found speeding, he took a stronger line on those who were caught using their mobile phones behind the wheel.

"We must take into account the limited sense of responsibility of many drivers, who often do not seem to realise the serious consequences of their distraction."