New data has shown that van drivers are twice as likely to use their mobile phone while driving.

An annual survey by the Department for Transport found that 1% of drivers were observed using a handheld mobile phone while they were at the wheel. 0.6% were holding the phone to their ear and 0.4% were holding the device in their hand while their vehicles were moving.

It is illegal to use a non hands-free mobile device while driving.

Twice as many van drivers (1.9%) were seen using their mobile phone as car drivers (0.8%), and the highest proportion of drivers observed breaking the law were HGV drivers (2.2%).

The roadside survey was conducted in the autumn of 2021 and followed similar surveys in 2017 and 2014.

Perhaps unsurprisingly drivers estimated to be aged between 17-29 were the age group most likely to be observed using their phone while driving, and those estimated to be over 60 years old were the least likely. The figures were higher for minor roads (1.3%) than major roads (0.8%).

“It’s concerning there has been an increase in the proportion of drivers observed using handheld mobile phones at the wheel since 2017,” said Nicholas Lyes, head of roads policy at the RAC.  

"Historically, when the Government stiffens penalties, there is a drop in illegal phone use before old habits begin to creep back in again. While many drivers would like to see the penalties increased further, we believe the Government should be rolling out new camera enforcement technology similar as is already used in several other countries such as Australia and the Netherlands.”

"We believe this technology would be an important tool for reducing the number of unnecessary lives tragically lost on our roads each year because of this dangerous and illegal habit,” said Lyes.