- New research highlights hands-free distraction
- Majority of drivers dangerously distracted
- Safe option is not to phone and drive
New research has found that drivers using hands-free mobile phones are significantly distracted and just as dangerous as those using a hand-held device.
The University of Utah research shows that driving is dramatically impaired when using a hands-free mobile phone for 97% of drivers.
Drivers on hands-free mobile phones took 20% longer to hit the brakes when needed and following distances increased 30% as the drivers failed to keep pace with simulated traffic while driving. Memory performance declined 11%, and the ability to solve maths problems fell 3% compared to drivers who were not having a telephone conversation.
The results show that it is the conversation which is distracting, not the mode of having it.
The road safety charity Brake has now called for the government to put an end to the legal discrepancy whereby it is illegal to use a hand-held phone behind the wheel, yet using a hands-free device is legal.
Ellen Booth, campaigns officer for Brake, said: 'Using a hands-free phone isn't safer than using a hand-held because it's the conversation that's the distraction.
'The person on the other end of the phone can't tell when you are coming up to a junction or trying to manoeuvre so they will keep on talking and distracting you and expecting you to answer.
'To drive safely you need to give your full attention to the road. If you need to make a call or check your messages, pull up in a safe place first.'