Shock figures revealed over mobile phone use by drivers
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Nearly half of UK drivers still use their mobile phone illegally while out on the road, a new survey has revealed.
Car leasing firm Flexed quizzed more than 400 motorists and found that 45 per cent of them admitted to the dangerous practice. But when it comes to van drivers, that figure rises to a whopping 78 per cent who risk their lives and the lives of others.
The survey also found that six out of ten drivers rang, texted, replied to calls and texts, and surfed the web while at the wheel.
According to Department for Transport statistics, using mobile phones while driving caused 17 deaths and 548 injuries in 2012, while more than 9,000 road accidents between 2010 and 2012 were attributed to being distracted by equipment such as sat navs, phones and radios.
Flexed spokesman Johnny Ratcliffe said: "Despite frequent news stories of accidents, injuries and deaths caused by people using their phone while driving, people still don't get the message.
"The major problem with in-vehicle phone use is that it's not become the taboo in the same way that smoking in public has become anti-social. It's only through concerted pressure on drivers, such as naming and shaming, that we can change deeply entrenched habits."
Because conviction rates for the illegal use of mobile phones has fallen over the past year, it is believed that a lot of motorists reckon they won't get caught if they use their mobile while on the road.
Anyone currently caught using a hand-held phone while driving is given an automatic fixed penalty of three points on their licence and a £100 fine. If the case goes to court, the fine can rise to £1,000 with a ban imposed as well.
In July, Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin backed Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe's suggestion that offenders should get six points on their licence, meaning an automatic ban for drivers who had passed their test less than two years before and a ban for other drivers who were caught twice in three years.