Mike Stevens | May 20, 2010

NEW RESEARCH has shown that using a mobile phone while driving can delay reaction time as much as having a blood alcohol content of 0.08 percent, according to Queensland's RACQ.

“Drink driving is rightfully regarded by almost all motorists as unacceptable and dangerous behaviour, yet talking on the phone is still a common practice,” RACQ spokesperson Joe Fitzgerald said.

“The fact is that mobile phone use reduces reaction time by 35 percent, effectively making you a drunk driver, even when using a hands-free kit."

Mr Fitzgerald said that texting while driving is "even worse," with every second texting effectively doubling the chances of crashing.

“Eighty-eight percent of RACQ members believe driver distraction is an increasing problem on Queensland roads,” he said.

“Driver inattention contributes to about a third of all crashes in Queensland, so it’s critical for motorists to become more aware of the risks.”

A poll by Telstra earlier this year found that texting is on the rise in Australia, with almost a third of motorists admitting to reading and sending texts while driving.

Telstra spokesperson Jenny Young said that 17 to 24 year olds are the second most likely to break the law by using their handset when driving.

Texting isn't the only danger though, with some 30 percent of respondents admitting to speaking for one or two minutes on their handset while driving.

Around 46 percent of women admitted to having short phone conversations while driving, compared to 28 percent of men.

The report, which surveyed 1014 Australian motorists, also found - somewhat strangely - that only seven percent of road users are aware of when it is illegal to use a mobile phone while driving.

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