Drivers making phone calls, texting or even using smartphones to surf the internet instead of concentrating on the road have caused hundreds of crashes, police statistics show.
Strathclyde Police, Scotland’s largest force, dealt with 81 crashes, including two serious incidents, where driving using a mobile phone was a definite factor.
But the force said the figure could be even higher as it had not looked at hundreds of ‘distraction in the vehicle’ reports.
This category includes suspected use of a mobile phone.
Northern Constabulary emerged as one of the country’s most dangerous areas, with four crashes being caused by drivers using a mobile phone.
One of these was classed as ‘serious’.
In Northern Constabulary, another 59 crashes were caused by ‘distractions in the vehicle.’
This included five fatal accidents between 2009 and 2011, where eight people died, and 12 other ‘serious’ collisions.
Lothian and Borders, Fife Police and Dumfries and Galloway forces were unable to provide the figures despite a Freedom of Information request.
Tayside police had seven accidents involving mobile phones, including a two-car crash near Forfar in 2010 where a person died.
Neil Greig, director of policy and research at the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM), said: “This is an area that requires more research.
“If even one of these deaths was caused by a driver using a mobile phone then it was totally avoidable.”
A recent IAM study found using a mobile phone at the wheel was more distracting and dangerous than driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
The research was carried out in a driving simulator, and participants who were sending and receiving Facebook messages saw their reaction times slowed by 38% and missed key events.
Being over the legal limit for alcohol, 80mg per 100ml of blood, slowed reaction times by between 6% and 15%.
A Northern Constabulary spokesman stressed the fatal crashes may not have been caused by drivers using mobile phones.
He said: “We run scheme in secondary schools teaching youngsters about the dangers of mobile phone use.
“However, people are not getting the message that it is a dangerous offence, which not only puts yourself at risk but also other road users as well.”
In 2009 it emerged police across Scotland had issued more than 52,000 fixed penalties to motorists caught using mobile phones at the wheel in less than three years.