Selfies, social media and smartphones blamed for spike in road traffic deaths: Young UK drivers worst behaved in Europe

Mobile technology is distracting young British drivers, and increasing the risk of road accidents.

According to a new report released by the Ford Motor Company, 33 per cent of 18-24 year old drivers in the UK have admitted to taking selfies behind the wheel.

Read more: "Phablet", "selfie" and other tech terms added to Oxford online dictionary

The research, which involved 7,000 European smartphones users between the ages of 18 and 24, shows that this issue is much more widespread on our shores than it is elsewhere on the continent.

28 per cent of young German drivers, 28 per cent of young French drivers, 27 per cent of young Romanians, 26 per cent of young Italians, 18 per cent of young Spaniards and 17 per cent of young Belgians fessed up to the same dangerous habit.

Meanwhile, a quarter of respondents – predominantly male – said that they had used social media while driving.

According to Ford, social media can distract drivers for 20 seconds, while selfies can eat up 14 seconds of a driver's concentration.

''Taking a selfie has for many young people quickly become an integral part of everyday life. But it's the last thing you should be doing behind the wheel of a car,'' said Jim Graham, the manager of Ford's Driving Skills for Life programme. ''It is deeply worrying that so many young drivers admit to taking a photo while driving and we will be doing all we can to highlight the potential dangers through driver education."

The rise of mobile tech coincides with that of serious road accidents. 380 road deaths were recorded during the first quarter of 2014, representing a 13 per cent increase on the same period last year.

Overall, the first three months of this year saw 5,500 road incidents – a rise of 17 per cent.

Read more: Using smartphones behind the wheel more dangerous than drink-driving

"Mobile phone use has been a problem for some time and there's not been enough action to tackle it," said David Bizley, RAC's technical director. "Using a hand-held phone or texting while driving must be made socially unacceptable."

Collette Moreno (left), a bride-to-be travelling to her bachelorette party, died in a car crash minutes after the picture above was snapped.

Image credit: New York Post