The survey revealed that nearly three in 10 drivers texts at the wheel and one in 13 do so at least once a week. One in 11 drivers surfs the web, emails, uses apps or social networking sites when driving.
Texting has been found to make drivers 23 times more likely to cause a crash, potentially killing or maiming innocent road users. Using a phone to email or surf the web also causes serious distractions.
In the United States, death from distracted driving has been increasing and researchers put this down to increases in drivers using smartphone technology.
A recent Ofcom report warned of increasing levels of smartphone addiction in the UK by users who are unable to go without checking their phone even for short periods or through the night.
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Over a quarter of adults and nearly half of teenagers now own a smartphone and the volume of mobile data transferred over the UK’s mobile networks has increased forty-fold between 2007 and 2010.
Julie Townsend, Brake campaigns director, 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.”