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Mobile use at wheel 'commonplace'

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An insurer has highlighted the growing trend of drivers using mobile phones at the wheel after a Labour minister was fined for careless driving.

Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, Harriet Harman, admitted driving without due care and attention in court while a second charge of driving while using her mobile phone was withdrawn. 

But a survey by Sainsbury's Car Insurance showed that driving while using a mobile phone is common practice for some. 

A poll by the insurer found 12% of drivers had illegally used their mobile while at the wheel and 11% said they had sent a text message whilst driving.

The trend is also backed up by recent research by the Transport Research Laboratory, which revealed more drivers are using hand-held mobile phones than before tougher penalties were introduced two years ago. It found 2.6% of car drivers used hand-held phones in 2006 - when fines rose to £60 and three points could be added to licences - compared with 2.8% now.

Ben Tyte, Sainsbury's Car Insurance Manager said: "We would urge motorists to give their driving their full attention and not be tempted to engage in anything that could distract them."

© Press Association 2009