Hands-free, danger free?

Hands-free, danger free?

Although it is legal to use a hands-free kit to make a call whilst driving, over two fifths (41 per cent) of motorists think the use of hands-free kits should be banned and 71 per cent of motorists polled think that they are a distraction to the driver1. Research commissioned by esure car insurance reveals that nearly half (48 per cent) of motorists believe that users of hands-free kits are needlessly putting their own and other motorists’ safety at risk.

Despite there being many legal hands-free phone accessories on sale in England and Wales, 2,986 motorists were prosecuted in 20072 for failing to have proper control of their vehicle while being distracted by hands-free phone calls. Previous research3 by TRL also proves that drivers using phones are four times more likely to have an accident. There is growing concern as esure’s research reveals that approximately 16 million motorists4 regularly make hands-free calls whilst driving.

Mike Pickard, Head of Risk and Underwriting at esure car insurance, said: “Although the use of hands-free kits is legal, motorists should always ensure that they pay full attention to the road as opposed to a phone conversation. Any distraction that may compromise the concentration of motorists should be avoided as motorists need to have full control of their vehicle at all times.

esure urges motorists to either put their phones on silent when driving or, to remove the temptation of answering a call when behind the wheel, to make sure they switch off their phones until they have also switched off their engines.”

Kevin Clinton, head of road safety at the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, said: “Using a hands-free phone while driving is just as dangerous as using a hand-held phone because of the mental distraction caused by the telephone conversation. RoSPA has always said that the use of hands-free phone kits while driving should have been made illegal at the same time as hand-held phones were. We urge employers in particular to ensure their employees do not use any type of mobile phone when they are driving for work.”

80 per cent of motorists also agree that perpetrators of careless driving should receive a fine and on the spot penalty points - a subject that is currently the focus of a Department of Transport consultation paper5 which plans to give police powers to issue fixed penalties for careless driving in a bid to make roads safer.

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