A road safety charity has repeated its calls for a ban on the use of mobile phones whilst driving.
Huddersfield-based Brake said a survey found that almost half of drivers admitted making calls at the wheel.
The survey, in conjunction with insurance company Direct Line, was released to mark the 10th anniversary of the ban on making hand-held calls.
The survey highlighted anyone talking on a phone – even hands-free – were four times more likely to be involved in an injury accident.
It also concluded that using phones to text, access smart phone apps or make hands-free calls had increased.
The survey of 1,000 people also revealed that one third of people were still unaware of the dangers that any mobile phone use whilst driving could cause.
In the Driven to Distraction survey, 45 per cent of drivers admitted to talking on a phone, not much less than the 54 per cent who admitted to doing so in 2006.
Whilst using hand held devices to take calls has reduced from over a third (36%) to one in eight (13%) use of hands free devices have almost doubled from 22 per cent to 38 per cent.
This is in spite of research by the Transport Research Laboratory, which suggested that the phone conversation itself, not the method in which the call is taken, causes the danger.
It also revealed that reactions are 30% slower when mid call than driving at the UK drink drive limit of 80mg per 100ml in blood.
Meanwhile, more than four in 10 18 to 24-year-olds were found to text whilst driving (44%), while smart phone apps were now used by one in eight (12%), up from less than one in 10 in 2006.
A third claimed to be still unaware that using any phone use whilst driving was dangerous.
Brake wants people to turn phones off and put them in the boot. The charity is demanding the Government prioritises traffic policing and increase penalties for those caught to at least £500.
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.
“Just as worrying is the widespread belief that using a hands-free kit is a safe alternative: it’s not.”
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