Text alert... young drivers are happy to risk losing their licence just to send a phone message.
Alarming new research suggests the majority think pulling in and texting from the roadside with the engine still running is perfectly acceptable behaviour.
The AA is now working with driving instructors to get the real message across this summer – it could prove costly and dangerous.
An AA survey found that more than 70 per cent of younger drivers think it is acceptable to read and send texts when the car is stopped, idling at the side of the road.
With increasing pressure for mobile phone fines to be increased sharply, the motoring organisation is appealing to young drivers not only to safeguard them and other road users but also not to throw away their good driving records, their tuition and their money within months of passing their tests.
Parents who have invested in their children’s driving lessons are also being urged to emphasise the importance of not texting behind the wheel.
Overall, 55 per cent of respondents of a new Populus poll commissioned by the AA Driving School believed it was acceptable to send or read a text message in breach of the mobile telephone law.
But it was drivers in their teens and twenties who were prepared to leave themselves vulnerable at the roadside and potentially present an obstacle to other vehicles, just to answer a text.
The minimum punishment, three penalty points, puts them half way to losing their licence during the first two years of their driving career.
When asked the circumstances under which the 28,265 drivers polled might feel it was acceptable to read or write and send a text, more than half (55 per cent) believed it was acceptable to do so when pulled over with the engine running. This figure increased to 71 per cent of 18-24-year-olds and 73 per cent for those aged 25-34.
Almost a third (31 per cent) believed it was acceptable to read or send a text when stationary in queuing traffic. This rose to almost half (48 per cent) of 18-24 year-olds and 38 per cent of respondents in London.
While younger drivers were most likely to consider it acceptable, a quarter of over 65s also felt that they could read or send a text while stationary in queuing traffic.
Mark Peacock, Head of the AA Driving School, said: “New drivers should not undermine the time and effort they have put into learning to drive by committing a needless offence which carries three penalty points, especially when they are allowed only six points before a ban.
“The only time it is acceptable to read or send a text message on a mobile device is when you are parked safely with the engine switched off.
“No message is important enough to risk your own or other road users’ lives – a momentary distraction, created by reading or sending a message. could easily result in a crash.”