Drivers are being warned about the dangers of using mobile phones while driving in a campaign launched by Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service.

Research has shown that using a mobile phone can impair driving ability more than being over the drink drive limit.

Andy Ford, Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service's Community Safety Education Manager, said: "Most drivers are responsible and do not use their mobile phone whilst driving. But the few that continue to take risks by texting, surfing the internet or making or receiving calls are putting other road users and themselves in danger of harm."

Drivers on their mobiles are much less aware of what is happening around them and can fail to see road signs, maintain a proper lane position or a steady speed. They also end up feeling more stressed and frustrated and are more likely to tailgate the vehicle in front or enter unsafe gaps in traffic.

Councillor Judith Heathcoat, Oxfordshire County Council's Cabinet Member for Community Safety, said: "Motorists are four times more likely to be involved in a collision whilst using a mobile phone or being distracted in a vehicle, and their reactions are 50 per cent slower.

"Think twice before answering a call using hands free, and never take your eyes off the road. It is not worth the risk."

The campaign is in collaboration with Thames Valley Police. Their officers will be focusing on detecting and prosecuting drivers who use their mobile phones behind the wheel.

Further advice on safe driving is available on the 365alive website.