Drivers still using mobile phones despite law

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The Independent Online

Three years on from the introduction of tougher in-car mobile phone rules, many motorists are still flouting the law, according to a survey today.

Drivers are illegally using hands-held mobiles not just for making and receiving calls but for texting, calling up the internet and even checking messages on Facebook and Twitter, the YouGov poll for car parts company Halfords found.

The survey of 2,100 adults revealed 31% of drivers admitted taking a call while at the wheel and 22% said they had made a call.

As many as 28% of motorists confessed to reading a text while driving and 18% had sent a text.

The survey also showed that 5% of drivers had read a post on Facebook, Twitter or another social website, with 2% even admitting posting on Facebook or sending an email while at the wheel.

Also, 3% read their emails while still in charge of a car, with 2% saying they had used the internet while driving to check traffic reports and find directions.

Some tried to justify in-car internet usage by claiming they only did it when in stationary traffic or at traffic lights, though this is still illegal.

Overall, 52% of adults have been a passenger in a car when the driver has made or received a phone call.

Halfords in-car technology expert Clare Pritchard said: "It seems there is still some way to go to ensure drivers use mobile phones legally and drive with due care and attention. The only way to do this is by installing a hands-free device in your car.

"While it is always better to pull into a safe place and stop the car before using the phone, hands-free means drivers can have the reassurance of a mobile phone while on the move."

Professor Stephen Glaister, director of the RAC Foundation, said: "The use of mobile phones behind the wheel is bad news for road safety. We know drivers' reaction times slow by almost half when they are having a chat on their mobiles. This is even worse than texting while driving which our research has shown slows reaction times by a third.

"The actions of those who flout the law can have tragic consequences. In 2008 the use of a mobile phone was a contributory factor in 16 fatal road accidents across Britain and many more where people were seriously injured.

"Police must be given the resources to tackle this menace and drivers persuaded that what they are doing is potentially lethal."