A driver's risk of having an accident almost doubles when they use a mobile phone while at the wheel, new data suggests.
Wunelli, a provider of vehicle telematics for insurance companies, and insurance broker Drivology, gathered data on more than 4,000 drivers over a period of 18 months.
It included data on journeys made with hands-free and illegal hand-held mobile phone use, and the results suggest that driver performance is affected in both scenarios.
Hard braking events - G-force sufficient to propel a handbag on to the floor - occur approximately once every 50 miles with an average driver.
But Wunelli established that for drivers using a hand-held mobile, these events increase by 75%, and 20% for those using hands-free.
The data also revealed that men are almost twice as likely to use their phone illegally at the wheel, while drivers of either sex between the ages of 25 and 35 most frequently commit this offence.
A majority of illegal phone calls are made on roads with a speed limit of 40mph or less, where accidents are 11 times more likely to occur, compared to motorways.
The data also showed that drivers using a phone illegally tend to drop their speed by a third on average, suggesting a high level of distraction.
Paul Stacy, founding director of Wunelli, said: “Driving a car is the most dangerous activity most people will ever do.
“The fact we all started to use phones in our cars 10 years before the Government in the UK banned use while driving means we need re-think our attitude to mobile phone use, and mute the mobile when we make a journey.”