As you pack up your car this weekend it's not just the prospect of more soggy summer weather that should be worrying you. The latest Ford safety research puts the spotlight on some of the dodgy driving practices that are afflicting Britain's roads. It makes for a sobering reading.

Fifteen years ago, reckless texting (I'd call it "rexting" but apparently that means something else) wouldn't have been among the Seven Deadly Sins of Motoring. According to the Ford safety research it is now the most dangerously distracting thing you can do at the wheel.

The survey reveals that 10 per cent of British drivers text while they're on the move and in the 17-24 age group the figure jumps to 20 per cent. The problem isn't just confined to compulsively replying to messages, when you should have your eyes on the road ahead. Checking Facebook, Twitter and other social networking sites while driving also counts as extremely hazardous. That tweet could turn out to be your epitaph!

The Ford safety research also reveals:

  • A staggering 60 per cent of drivers admit to being knob twiddlers (changing the station or CD on their car stereo).
  • Driving with one hand is practised by 40 per cent of motorists.
  • An (un)healthy 30 per cent have been known to eat and drink at the wheel. (Not  recommended by doctors or road safety experts.)

Of course there would be no fun in a survey that didn't strike another blow in the ongoing  battle of the sexes. Not surprisingly, almost half of the women polled thought they were safer behind the wheel. Only one in five men agreed with that view. (No doubt the other 80 per cent answered that question very politely!)

Rounding off the bad news, about 67 per cent of those questioned didn't rate their chances of passing the driving test easily if they had to take it again today.

Fortunately, technology is also helping to counteract the negative effects of all that texting, chatting and CD-changing. Ford's Active City Stop operates in slow-moving traffic to apply the brakes if the car in front has stopped. Available on the all-new Ford Focus, this feature will counteract a slow or distracted driver -- provided the speed is less than 20 mph.

Be careful out there!

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