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Hands-free kits for mobile phones are apparently not among the most in-demand car parts with many motorists flouting the law and using their handset while driving, a new survey reveals.

According to a poll by Halfords, almost half of motorists continue to use their mobile phones illegally, despite the introduction of tougher penalties for doing so five years ago.

Since 2007, being caught using your mobile without a hands-free kit while behind the wheel will result in an automatic fixed penalty of £60, plus three points on your driving licence.

In some cases, the driver can be taken to court, which could see them face disqualification from driving on top of a maximum fine of £1,000.

Nevertheless, ten per cent more of those polled said they use their mobile phones illegally while driving then did so in a similar survey carried out a year ago, the Press Association reported.

Furthermore, 25 per cent of drivers said that they commit the offence once a month or more.

Men are most likely to use their phones illegally, with 67 per cent having done so, while those aged under 25 are the most frequent users of social networking sites, such as Facebook and Twitter, while driving.

In all, this makes mobile phone offences the fifth most common traffic crime.

Meanwhile, a recent study by insurer Zurich found that Brits frequently leave mobile phones and other expensive gadgets in their vehicles unattended.

It revealed that 51 per cent of drivers leave valuables in their cars overnight, with sunglasses (77 per cent), clothes (28 per cent) and sat navs (20 per cent) among the most common items to be left in vehicles.

Six per cent of drivers also leave mobile phones in their cars overnight, while the same number have left £20 or more worth of cash.

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