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Seven in 10 drivers in Australia support increased fines and penalties for those caught texting or talking on phones illegally in their cars, according to the latest Volvo Driver Safety Index national survey of 750 people.

And about 42.0 per cent support banning drivers using mobiles altogether, with 87.0 per cent of all drivers surveyed agreeing that texting/calling reduces reaction times and is similar to driving drunk.

Each year more than 120,000 drivers around Australia are fined for illegally texting or talking on the phone while driving. All Australian states and territories have laws requiring mobile phones to be operated hands-free or in a cradle.

Volvo’s national survey found illegal use of mobiles to be most prevalent in drivers under 35, with around half admitting to regularly texting, making calls or going online without hands-free.

When asked why they did this even though it is illegal, apparently 32.0 per cent said they did it out of habit, 26.0 per cent said they could “multi-task” while driving, 22.0 per cent wanted to remain connected to family, friends or work, and 7.0 per cent said they were addicted to texting

Volvo Car Australia managing director Kevin McCann said: “With 1 in 3 drivers admitting to making a call or texting while behind the wheel there is still much work to be done to reduce distractions for road users”.

“The results from Volvo’s Driver Safety Index show many drivers believe that “driving is for driving” – not for chatting, organising social events, texting, reading, or any of the diverse in-vehicle activities that can divert attention and affect safe driving,” he added.

Volvo’s national online survey of licensed drivers in all states and territories was conducted between April 13-27, 2015.