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UK company wants hands-free ban

2014-04-23 13:32

DON'T DO IT: A British survey company wants to ban hands-free cellphones kits. Image: Shutterstock


Checking text messages while driving is dangerous at the best of times but what if you’re responsible for dozens of lives? A shocking video shows a bus driver checking messages on his cellphone moments before crashing into a truck.

• 45% of drivers use a cellphone while driving
Down from 54% in 2006
• Hand-held use down 13% from 36% in 2006
• Hands-free use has risen to 38% from 22% in 2006

LONDON, England - A survey conducted by British company Brake and Direct Line has renewed its call to ban hands-free car cellphone kits.

The survey showed that almost half (45%) of drivers admit to talking on a cellphone when driving. While the use of hand-held phones by drivers has dropped, hands-free use has risen, likely linked to the mistaken belief that it is a safe alternative.

Brake and Direct Line's survey revealed:

The company believes the lack of a total ban has left many drivers unaware of the dangers of using a hands-free mobile. According to the survey 32% don't know that using any type of phone while driving is dangerous.

Brake wants a total ban on mobile phone use at the wheel to prevent hundreds of crashes, deaths and injuries every year and the prioritisation of traffic policing by government to help enforce it.

Brake's advice to drivers is simple: remove the temptation by turning your phone to silent and putting it in the boot, out of sight and reach.

Julie Townsend, Brake's deputy chief executive, said: "It is shocking that, 10 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."

Rob Miles, director at Direct Line, said: "The fact that using a hands-free mobile while driving could be more dangerous than driving while inebriated will understandably come as a shock to many drivers who use a hands-free device to comply with the law."


Drivers who perform complex secondary tasks at the wheel increase their crash risk dramatically, with those speaking on a phone, hands-free or hand-held, four times more likely to be in a crash that injures.

Using a hands-free phone is just as dangerous as talking on a hand-held. Research shows the call itself is the main distraction and that hands-free calls carry almost the same risk.

Drivers using a phone have slower reaction times and difficulty controlling speed and lane position. Their crash risk remains higher than normal for up to 10 minutes after the call has ended


Using a phone and driving is a deadly combination and no call or message is ever worth a life. Drivers should put phones out of sight, earshot and reach when driving to avoid temptation, ideally in the boot. Take regular breaks a long drive and use the time to check messages or make calls.

Don't kid yourself into believing that hands-free is a safe option; it's just as dangerous as using a hand-held because of the mental distraction of the call. Everybody can make a difference by refusing to speak to someone who's driving; politely but quickly end the call - it could save their life.

• Do you think a hands-free ban in South Africa would work? Send us an email or use the Readers' Comments section below. 
Read more on:    england  |  london  |  cellphones  |  driving  |  survey

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