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Roads Minister to look into harsher penalties as study finds texting at the wheel more dangerous than drink driving

Reaction times for phone calls and texters worse than cannabis and alcohol users: calls for one year ban penalties

Texting at the wheel is more dangerous than drink driving, research has found, leading campaigners to call for harsher penalties for using mobile phones at the wheel.

A study by the Transport Research Laboratory (TRL) has found that a driver has a 46 per cent slower reaction time when making a hand-held call, and only slightly better results when texting at 37 per cent slower. Hands free calls were not a complete solution, with 26 per cent slower reactions.

This compares with a 13 per cent slower reaction for someone at the drink drive limit of 80mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood.

Cannabis users saw a 21 per cent drop in reaction times.

Robert Goodwill, the road safety minister, told the Sunday Times: “I will see if we need to change the penalties.”

Hugh Bladon, treasurer of the Alliance of British Drivers, said texting at the wheel was “such a stupid thing to do”.

Nick Freeman, the lawyer nicknamed Mr Loophole for winning acquittals on motoring offences, said: “Impose a one-year ban and you’ll get rid of it ... can you imagine being off the road for a year, just because you sent a quick text? Forget it.”

Half of drivers aged 18 to 24 admitted to texting while driving, according to an RAC poll, while another study by the

TRL found the use of mobile phones by drivers in Surrey had more than doubled from 2009 to 2.6% in 2012.

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