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Young people twice as likely to use phone while driving, UK figures suggest

By Neil Lancefield, Press Association Transport Correspondent

Young people are nearly twice as likely to use a mobile people while driving, Department for Transport (DfT) figures suggest.

Some 4.0% of people aged 17-29 were observed using a hand-held phone on Britain's roads, compared with 2.1% of all drivers.

Phone use among young drivers consisted of 1.4% holding a device to their ear and 2.6% holding it in their hand.

The data is based on observations of drivers who had stopped at traffic light junctions in October and November last year.

Analysis of both static and moving traffic found that 1.1% of all drivers were seen using a hand-held mobile behind the wheel in Britain.

The previous survey, which covered England and Wales in 2014, recorded a rate of 1.6%.

Since March 2017, motorists caught using a hand-held phone have faced incurring six points on their licence and a £200 fine - up from the previous penalty of three points and £100.

Road safety minister Jesse Norman said: "It is dangerous and irresponsible for drivers to hold and use their phones at the wheel, and it puts people's lives at risk. So these figures are good news."

RAC road safety spokesman Pete Williams said: "Anecdotally, we still see too many drivers either talking on their hand-held phones or interacting with them.

"And perhaps more worryingly, our own research with drivers suggests the problem has far from gone away.

"As a result we suspect many drivers will be very sceptical of these findings as they don't reflect what they see on a daily basis."

Some 43 people were killed and 135 seriously injured in crashes on Britain's roads in 2017 in which a driver using a mobile was a contributory factor.

This is compared with 35 deaths and 137 people seriously injured during the previous year.

The DfT figures also show that 96.5% of drivers were observed using a seat belt in Britain, compared with 95.3% in England and Scotland in 2014.

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