A survey by a motoring website has found UK drivers continue to use hand-held mobile (cell) phones despite 82% recognising it is a dangerous activity which increases the likelihood of crashing.

The survey, of over 18,000 drivers, uncovers a grossly hypocritical attitude amongst drivers with 76% of respondents admitting to be happy to use a mobile phone while at wheel of their car, despite acknowledging the associated danger.

Drivers are not prepared to stop using mobile phones unless they are forced to by government legislation and 68% of drivers support government plans to ban hand-held mobile phones. The government receives further support from drivers who believe the penalty system of £30 fine rising to £1000 and three penalty points is fair.

Despite this behaviour there is evidence that drivers are becoming more safety conscious in the way they use mobile phones. Of those drivers using mobiles, most prefer hands-free devices, which are perceived by 59% of drivers to be safe. Any government plan to ban hands-free phones would be opposed by 79% of drivers surveyed.

A spokesman for the Autotrader website said: "Our survey demonstrates that drivers are becoming more aware of the dangers associated with hand held mobile phones yet continue to use them in large numbers. The confused logic behind this decision making process seems to have parallels with consumer attitudes over the introduction of seat belt laws back in the 1980s. Whilst the ban of hand-held phones would probably meet near universal approval, it is likely that a ban on hands free kits would prove unpopular."