Drivers still using mobile phones at the wheel

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As many as 13 per cent of drivers are still using hand-held mobile phones while at the wheel, according to a survey.

And four per cent have admitted to regularly sending or reading text messages while driving, the poll by road safety charity Brake and insurance company Direct Line showed.

The number of people owning up to using hand-held mobiles at the wheel has fallen from 36 per cent in 2006 to the current figure of 13 per cent.

But the survey, of 1,000 drivers, also showed that the number of motorists using hands-free mobiles while driving has risen from 22 per cent in 2006 to 38 per cent now.

Using hand-held mobiles at the wheel has been illegal for a decade, but Brake is calling for a total ban on mobile phone use by drivers.

The survey revealed that 68 per cent agreed that it was dangerous to use any type of mobile phone while driving, but only 36 per cent supported a ban on hands-free mobiles, while four per cent said all mobile phone use should be permitted.

Brake deputy chief executive Julie Townsend said: “It is shocking that, 10 years after the ban, one in eight drivers continues to flout the law and put lives in danger by using a hand-held mobile at the wheel.

“Just as worrying is the widespread belief that using a hands-free kit is a safe alternative. Don’t kid yourself: it’s not. Using a hands-free phone while driving can end and ruin lives just as surely as using a phone hand-held, and no phone call or text is worth a life.

“The Government needs to act now to stop this risky behaviour. We all need to take responsibility and put our phones safely out of reach and earshot while behind the wheel, and refuse to speak on the phone to others who are driving.”

Direct Line’s motor director Rob Miles said: “The potential for casualties from mobile phone distraction is frightening. Hopefully, as drivers become more aware of the dangers inherent in the use of mobile phones whilst driving, it will become as much of a social taboo as drink-driving has become in recent years.”