The RAC has called for a crackdown on mobile phone use behind the wheel in the wake of figures revealing the number of accidents in which using a phone was a contributory factor has soared by 20 percent in the last three years.
Figures released by the Department for Transport show that accidents involving mobiles rose from 378 in 2012 to 422 last year, and in 2013, fatalities caused by crashes where mobile use was a factor increased by 29.4 percent.
In response, RAC chief engineer David Bizley said illegally texting or speaking on a mobile while at the wheel should be "as unacceptable as drink-driving".
Mr Bizley told the Daily Mail: "A report by the Transport Research Laboratory in June this year demonstrated that talking on a hand-held phone while driving causes a 46 percent reduction in reaction speeds, compared to 13 percent for drivers drinking to the legal limit.
Separate research conducted by the RAC as part of its Report on Motoring 2014 found that 34 percent of drivers worry about other motorists using their phones behind the wheel, while three quarters had regularly seen other drivers using their phones while driving.
Those caught using a hand-held mobile behind the wheel could be charged a £100 fine and get three points on their licence, and the RAC is calling for tougher penalties in light of the latest figures.
He said: "We are ... calling on the police to enforce the current laws on the use of hand-held phones while driving more effectively.
"This must be supported by a high-profile, government-funded road safety campaign that makes using a hand-held mobile phone at the wheel as socially unacceptable as drink driving."
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