'70% of public firmly opposed to drivers using hand-held mobiles at the wheel'

The proportion of Britons who "disagree strongly" that it is safe to talk on a hand-held mobile phone while driving has reached its highest level since current records began, new research shows.

Some 70% of people said they are firmly against the practice, according to the annual British Social Attitudes Survey (BSAS) which holds data on the topic going back to 2006.

This compares with just 56% in 2007 and represents a year-on-year increase of three percentage points.

The latest report, which reveals public attitudes in 2017, shows that tougher penalties for illegal mobile use and public awareness campaigners have not had an impact on everybody.

Some 3% of respondents in the survey commissioned by the Department for Transport (DfT) said they "agree strongly" that it is safe for someone to talk on a hand-held phone while they are behind the wheel.

Since March 1 last year, motorists caught using a hand-held phone have faced incurring six points on their licence and a £200 fine - up from the previous penalty of three points and £100.

Separate DfT figures show 780 people were injured in accidents in 2016 when a driver was distracted or impaired by their phone, up 10% on the previous year.

The BSAS also found that scepticism towards speed cameras is declining.

For the first time since the subject was investigated by the survey in 2005, more people disagree (30%) than agree (29%) that there are too many speed cameras.

Meanwhile the proportion of Britons who believe they exist "mostly to make money" has fallen to 42%, compared with 48% the previous year and 56% in 2010.

Some 2,963 people were surveyed for the BSAS.