Nearly a third of drivers text while driving, according to the latest statistics from road safety charity Brake and car insurer Direct Line.
The Driven to distraction? 2011 report has sparked new fears for road safety after it found that 28% of drivers text at the wheel, with 8% of those drivers claiming that they do so at least once a week.
The study also highlighted other major driving distractions such as emailing and social networking. A staggering 9% of drivers surf the web, send emails or use social networking sites when driving.
Brake campaigns director Julie Townsend, said: ‘People who text, use the web or social networking when driving are taking enormous risks with their own and other people's lives. This kind of irresponsible behaviour is illegal and it kills so there should be no excuses.
‘We are concerned that the increasing uptake of this technology could lead to more crashes and casualties caused by distracted drivers, as is happening in the US. It is vital that the Government acts now to prevent an upsurge in distracted driving, and it's vital that drivers listen to these warnings and make a pledge to never use their phone when driving.’
These new findings come weeks after telecoms regulator Ofcom revealed the extent to which UK smartphone users had become addicted to their phones. It found that over a quarter of adults and nearly half of teenagers now own a smartphone with many unable to go a day without constantly checking their phone.
Brake and Direct Line warns that driver distraction from mobile phones could potentially rise to a dangerous high as technology uptake rapidly increases and smartphone addiction becomes more widespread.
Given the significant risk, Brake and Direct Line are now calling for drivers to turn off their handsets while driving to avoid temptation.
Direct Line Car Insurance spokesperson Frances Browning said: ‘Mobile phone technology has become such an intrinsic part of our lives that many drivers feel it is perfectly acceptable to drive whilst talking, texting, emailing or even surfing the web on their phone. It isn't and there is no excuse to undertake these activities. No call or text is that important to risk your own life or the lives of others. The way to reduce any temptation to use your phone or answer a call is simple; switch it off when you're behind the wheel.’