Since it was made illegal for drivers to use hand-held mobile phones while driving 10 years ago, the use of hands-free kits while driving has risen steadily, probably as a result of the belief that this is safe. However, there are serious concerns that hands-free calls still cause of a number of accidents each year.
A recent survey carried out by Brake, the road safety charity, and Direct Line, revealed the following statistics:
- 45% of drivers admit to using their mobile phone while driving
- 32% of drivers admit to using hands-free phones while driving
- 30% of drivers admit to having sent or read text messages while driving in the past 12 months. This increases to 44% in the 18-24 age bracket
- 2% of drivers admit to using the internet, social media or apps (excluding sat-nav) while driving.
It would appear, therefore, that the risks of using a hand-held phone are being accepted by drivers with usage dropping significantly over the past few years (from 36% in 2006 to 13% in 2013). However, with 13% of drivers still admitting to using hand-held mobiles while driving, the message on safety risks has still not got through to all drivers.
With the fall in the use of hand-held devices, there has been a big increase in the use of hands-free kits (from 22% in 2006 to 38% in 2013). Many drivers seem to be under the impression that this provides a safe alternative as you can keep your eyes on the road and hands on the wheel. However, the risk is not limited to these factors and the distraction of conversation on the telephone is the bigger issue, with reaction times 50% slower than under normal conditions and 30% slower than drivers who are at the drink drive limit.
Following the findings, Brake has renewed calls for hands-free kits to be banned while driving.