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Risky hands-free calls at the wheel on the rise

Just over ten years after hand-held mobiles were banned at the wheel, Brake is renewing its call to ban hands-free kits, as a Brake and Direct Line survey reveals that almost half (45%) of drivers admit to chatting when driving.

While the use of hand-held phones by drivers has dropped, hands-free use has risen, likely to be linked to the mistaken belief that it is a safe alternative.

For the past ten years, Brake believes that the lack of a total ban has left many drivers unaware that using a hands-free mobile at the wheel is just as risky as using a hand-held. According to the survey, three in ten (32%) don't know that any type of phone use while driving is dangerous.

In reality, it is the distraction of the conversation that causes the danger. 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, with reactions 30% slower than driving at the UK drink drive limit, and 50% slower than under normal conditions.

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

"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,” commented Julie Townsend, deputy chief executive, Brake. “Just as worrying is the widespread belief that using a hands-free kit is a safe alternative. Don't kid yourself: it's not."

"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,” she added.

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