Van drivers are twice as likely to use a mobile phone behind the wheel than car drivers, new data published by the Department for Transport has suggested.

According to the DfT’s ‘Seatbelt and mobile phone use surveys: Great Britain 2017’ report, 1.0% of car drivers were observed using a mobile behind the wheel last year compared with the DfT recording 2.1% of all van drivers using their mobiles while driving.

However, the highest proportion of drivers using mobiles while driving was among taxi and private-hire drivers (3.3%), however, the DfT said this is mostly driven by a higher rate in Scotland which is based on a small sample size.

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Five years ago, 1.6% of all drivers were seen to be using their mobile phone behind the wheel, compared with 1.1% in 2017, with the Government suggesting the cut in mobile phone use while driving may be linked to a change in mobile phone laws in 2017, with drivers caught using their phone facing fines of £200 and six points on their licence.

Commenting on the latest report, Pete Williams, the RAC’s road safety spokesman, said: “It’s clearly good news these figures show improved compliance with the law in England and Wales, but worrying they were far higher in Scotland. It is also important to recognise the vast majority of these surveys were carried out months after the penalty for using a handheld mobile phone at the wheel was increased. It stands to reason the ‘fear factor’ of the tougher penalties would be greater in the time immediately after they were introduced.”

He added: “Anecdotally, we still see too many drivers either talking on their handheld phones or interacting with them. And perhaps more worryingly, our own research with drivers suggests the problem has far from gone away. As a result we suspect many drivers will be very sceptical of these findings as they don’t reflect what they see on a daily basis.”