It’s time to act on hands-free use behind the wheel.
The general view is that, if you are not taking your eyes off the road to use a mobile phone, then you are not distracted and are perfectly aware of everything going on around you.
But this couldn’t be further from the truth.
Numerous studies have shown that using hands-free has a seriously detrimental impact on a driver’s ability, and the latest research from The Open University and the University of Sussex merely adds to the evidence base for the argument that usage should be banned.
This latest study shows that drivers’ reaction times while talking hands-free are on average 1.6 seconds slower than someone who is not distracted. This means they will take an extra 21.46 metres – or the length of five Ford Fiestas parked nose to tail – to stop while travelling at 30mph.
This could have disastrous consequences, particularly for vulnerable road users:
All of these incidents, all of this research, surely demonstrates that it’s time for a change in the law.
Although hands-free is currently legal, motorists who crash at the time of use can be convicted under other offences, such as careless driving.
However, we’d like to see its use banned outright. We recognise that enforcing this change, particularly with the resource pressures faced by the police, would be tough, but we believe that the law change in itself would be enough to make some drivers give the practice up.
And although catching someone on a hands-free kit is difficult, we would like to see retrospective investigation of those stopped for driving erratically or at speed, through the checking of phone records for example.
So yes, we would like to see a change in the law. But it’s also important that we educate drivers on the dangers of using hands-free – in essence, every time you take a call, be it with a handheld or hands-free mobile, you are wilfully putting other people’s lives at risk.
There is nothing more selfish.
For those who drive for work, we implore you to let calls go to voicemail. The one or two minutes you lose in finding a safe place to pull over and return the call are nothing, and surely it’s good PR for you, as a businessperson, to demonstrate your consideration for the safety of others.
For businesses, we recommend policies that prevent calls to those you know are currently on the road.
There is no phone call that is worth risking your life, or the lives of others. So please, just don’t do it.
Nick Lloyd, road safety manager
Posted: 10/12/2017 3:46:36 PM