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.
Brake and Direct Line's survey reveals:
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 and Direct Line's survey also found that texting at the wheel is a widespread menace, with three in 10 of all drivers (30%) admitting sending or reading messages while driving, and an even higher proportion of young drivers (age 18-24) - more than four in 10 (44%) - doing so. Smartphone apps are an additional threat, with one in eight (12%) drivers using them at the wheel, up from less than one in 10 (9%) in 2006.
Brake calls 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.
Brake's advice to drivers is simple: remove the temptation by turning their phones to silent and putting them in the boot, out of sight and reach.