ONE in every 20 motorists in Scotland is regularly breaking the law by driving while using a mobile phone, according to a new report.
In a study of four British cities – Edinburgh, Cardiff, London and Manchester – researchers found 5 per cent of cars were driven by someone using their phone.
The report found that such drivers were twice as likely as other motorists to drive erratically or recklessly, speed and brake suddenly.
These motorists were also much less road aware, with almost a third (30 per cent) failing to stop at a pedestrian crossing, compared with just 10 per cent of drivers who were not using a hand-held phone.
The report also revealed that more than one million motorists have been caught illegally using a hand-held phone in Britain since the ban was introduced in 2003, according to official figures.
Nearly one in five motorists (18 per cent) think it is acceptable to use a hand-held phone when driving, regardless of the law, despite research showing drivers using a mobile while in charge of a vehicle are twice as likely to drive erratically than those not using a phone.
And one in 25 drivers (four per cent) say they think it is unlikely that they will get caught and admit they are undeterred by the current punishment of three penalty points and a £60 fine.
On average, 100,000 motorists are fined for using a mobile phone behind the wheel every year, according to data obtained in a Freedom on Information request by LV= car insurance, but only a fraction of mobile phone use while driving is actually detected.
Of those who admit using their hand-held mobile behind the wheel, more than three-quarters (77 per cent) will answer calls and half (49 per cent) will text.
Many motorists even access the internet behind the wheel – using their devices to read e-mails (24 per cent); check directions (30 per cent); and log on to social networking sites (14 per cent).
In the last 12 months alone, more than 350,000 motorists admit to having had an accident or coming close as a result of being distracted by their mobile phones whilst driving, according to the study.
Yesterday John O’Roarke, managing director of LV= car insurance, said: “It’s been nearly ten years since legislation banning the use of hand-held phones when driving was introduced, so it’s worrying to see that many motorists are continuing to use their devices when on the road.
“While it can seem tempting for people to use their phones at the wheel, whilst driving they should always pull over to make a call, send a text or browse the internet. By not doing so they risk points, a fine or – even worse – causing an accident.”
All 51 police forces in the UK were asked via a Freedom of Information request how many motoring offences were recorded in their force area in the years specified. Forty forces provided figures.