Drivers still risking calls behind the wheel

JonathanApril 22, 2014

Although it has been more than a decade since hand-held mobiles were banned for drivers, a road safety charity is warning them that the risks don't stop there. Brake has teamed up with Direct Line to further its call to ban hands-free kits in the UK.

Research conducted by the partnership found that nearly half (45 per cent) of drivers admit to chatting while behind the wheel. Although the number of people using mobiles when driving has fallen, the amount using hands-free kits has risen.

Brake has warned that this is because many motorists consider it to be a safe alternative but it isn't. Since the original ban, the charity has been campaigning for it to be expanded to include hands-free kits too. 

It has warned that using a hands-free mobile at the wheel is just as risky as using a hand-held. However, there seems to be a general lack of awareness about the danger of being distracted behind the wheel. According to the survey, nearly a third (32 per cent) don't know that any type of phone use while driving is dangerous.

Brake has warned that it is the distraction of a conversation that takes your attention away from the road that is the real risk – not holding a phone. Previous studies have shown the risk of being in a crash that causes injury is increased four times for drivers on both hand-held and hands-free phones. This is because reactions are 30 per cent slower than driving at the UK drink drive limit, and 50 per cent slower than under normal conditions. 

Julie Townsend, deputy chief executive of Brake, said: "It is shocking that, ten years after the ban, one-in-eight drivers continues to flout the law and put lives in danger by using a hand-held mobile at the wheel."

She added that it is "just as worrying" that many drivers believe that using a hands-free kit is a safe alternative. 

"Using a hands-free phone while driving can end and ruin lives just as surely as using a phone hand-held, and no phone call or text is worth a life. We all need to take responsibility and put our phones safely out of reach and earshot while behind the wheel, and refuse to speak on the phone to others who are driving."

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