More than 2.7 million drivers have had a collision or veered off the road in the past two years because they were distracted by their mobile phone, research by Kwik Fit has found.
Of these drivers, just over one million had collided with another car while their attention was diverted from the road.
A further 1.8m drivers have been involved in a collision because another driver was distracted by their phone.
Studies have found that using a mobile phone while behind the wheel is as dangerous as drink-driving, while earlier this year road safety charity Brake has released an interactive resource for fleet professionals, tackling driver distraction.
Kwik Fit has also launched an interactive game on its website to highlight how using a mobile phone when driving affects a motorist’s reaction times.
Roger Griggs, communications director at Kwik Fit, said: “It is alarming to see that so many motorists are still risking their lives and those of others by using mobile phones behind the wheel.
“There are already so many other distractions on the road that it is vital that drivers pay attention and remain focused at all times.
“The aim of our game is to demonstrate how easy it is to lose focus when interacting with a phone when driving.
“We hope people will try this out and realise the danger they are putting themselves and others in and quit using their phone while operating a car.”
The Kwik Fit research of 2,003 UK adults found 24% of motorists admit to reading texts when driving, while 20% confess to sending them.
Texting is just one of the distractions from phones - the most common reasons people give for using their phone at some point while driving are to take a call on speaker (44%), make a call on speaker (41%) and use the GPS or sat-nav (40%).
Kwik Fit found that men are more likely to use their mobile for any reason while driving than women – for instance male drivers are 45% more likely than female motorists to have read a text while behind the wheel (28.2% vs 19.5%).
Kwik Fit said this difference in attitude is highly likely to be a factor in the numbers of drivers who have had a crash – 1.7m men have had a collision or veered off the road in the last two years while distracted by their mobile, compared to 970,000 women.
The study also highlighted the danger younger drivers are putting themselves in, as well as other road users.
Kwik Fit found 18% of drivers aged 18-34 admitted to having had a collision or veering off the road while distracted by their phone, compared with 0% for drivers aged 55 or over.
Drivers aged 18-34 are six times as likely to have read a text while driving, and almost 13 times more likely to have sent one than those 55 and over.
Using a handheld mobile phone while driving is illegal, but the effectiveness of legislation governing use of a handheld mobile phone while driving has been questioned by the High Court, Fleet News has reported.