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What Car? investigates

  • Mobile phones and cars don't mix
  • UK drivers are not getting the message
  • We investigate scale of the problem
Words By What Car? Staff

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What Car? investigates
Our research suggests that more motorists than ever are using phones while driving. During two hour-long surveys of 2446 cars, we observed 1.9% using a hand-held phone.

That may not sound like many, but 1.9% of all the UK's drivers equates to 825,000 people. Of course, not all drivers are on the road at the same time, but a recent AA report backs up our figures, estimating that 100,000 people are using hand-held mobile phones while driving at any one time in the UK.

During the first study, on a busy roundabout, we found 30 drivers flouting mobile phone laws that's one every two minutes.

The second survey, on a quieter high street, recorded 3% of motorists using a phone. One of them was at the wheel of a 15-tonne double-decker bus.

In 2007 alone, 25 road deaths in the UK were attributed to phone useMany of these drivers didn't have the phone pressed to their ear. Instead, they were holding the phone close to their mouths and using the 'speakerphone' function to talk either trying to avoid being caught, or believing this was a legal way to chat and drive. It isn't, and it's just as dangerous.

Our studies suggest the problem is far worse than previously thought. A 2008 survey by the Transport Research Laboratory (TRL) put the average number of drivers using a hand-held phone at 1.3% (a 0.1% increase on TRL's figures for 2007), so our figure of 1.9% shows that it could be much higher still.