Traffic congestion has overtaken phone use as the top concern among motorists, according to new research.

For the past two years, an annual study of more than 2,000 drivers by the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) has found that use of hand-held phones has been the most prevalent worry, but this year’s study has revealed that congestion is becoming a greater issue.

More than three-quarters (76 percent) of those surveyed said congestion was a bigger problem now than three years ago, while 73 percent said mobile phone usage was a growing problem. The third-biggest problem was aggressive drivers, which two-thirds of drivers (68 percent) said was a bigger problem than in 2015.

Cars on highway in traffic jam

However, despite the growing concerns about traffic, motorists still see mobile phone use – and checking social media in particular – as the biggest threat to their personal safety.

A massive 93 percent of those questioned said they were concerned about other motorists using their phones to check texts or social media such as Twitter.

Amazingly, that was a more common concern than people driving under the influence of illegal drugs, which was a worry of 91 percent of respondents, and drink-driving, which concerned 90 percent of those quizzed.

Drinking beer or alcoho while driving a car

Other top concerns included the number of motorists speeding on residential streets and talking on hand-held mobile phones (both 89 percent) and drivers ignoring red lights (88 percent).

On the other hand, though, drivers’ seem to see speeding as acceptable, with almost half of those questioned (48 percent) saying that driving 10 mph over the prescribed speed limit was acceptable.

Worryingly, around a quarter of respondents (23 percent) said they were willing to drive at five miles per hour above the speed limit on a residential speed limit, while some 11 percent would drive without a seatbelt and nine percent would drive at 5 mph above the speed limit near a school.

Speeding Mini Cooper in Dartmoor UK

Meanwhile, 15 percent said they had regularly driven at 5 mph above the speed limit on a residential street in the past 30 days, with a similar percentage saying that they had driven at 10 mph above the limit on a motorway.

Mike Quinton, CEO of the IAM’s corporate arm, IAM RoadSmart, said more enforcement of motoring laws was required to improve driver safety.

“UK drivers still have many worries when it comes to daily life on the road and there is ample time to think about them, considering the time they are spending in traffic jams,” he said.

M1 motorway near Flitwick junction with colourful sunset

“They still find the smartphone culture dangerous when mixed with the job of driving a car. Our ever busier roads need every drivers’ full attention if we are to make them safer for everyone and it’s clear those who responded to this survey recognise the extent to which mobile phones can distract a driver.

“However, despite recognising the risks, we have tracked drivers’ attitudes for four years now and it is clear that they are not shifting. Simply informing drivers about risks and trusting drivers to ‘do the right thing’ would not appear to be effective. There is a high level of support for stronger sanctions and more high profile policing, to ensure that the fear of being caught is a reality.”

Police car in London in motion