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Study leads to calls for a ban on hands-free sets

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Motorists who use hands-free equipment in their vehicle are at the same risk of getting distracted as someone holding a mobile phone, a new study has suggested.

The team of researchers at the University of Sussex has found that the conversations can lead to a driver imagining what they are talking about in their head.

The study, which involved some 60 volunteers, proved that this is more likely to make it more difficult for people to concentrate on the road ahead of them.

Following the publication of the findings this week, some campaigners have said that there is a strong case for a change in the law, which would ban the use of all phones in vehicles.

Dr Graham Hole, a senior lecturer in psychology, said the research challenged the “misconception” that hands-free sets eliminated the risk of a driver being distracted at the wheel.

“The problem is enforceability – it’s very difficult for the police to tell if someone’s using a hands-free phone,” he said.

“But on balance, I think the law should be changed to get the right message across and make it absolutely clear that any use of a mobile phone while driving is hazardous.”

The new research would seem to support previous studies, which have indicated that hands-free sets are more likely to affect a motorist’s concentration than listening to the radio or talking to a passenger.

Under current laws, drivers are allowed to use hands-free sets, sat-nav systems and two way radios, although police officers who have strong grounds to suspect that an individual is not in control of their vehicle may have the option of issuing a penalty.

If you are facing a charge for an offence committed while driving, it is important to seek legal advice at the earliest opportunity to ensure the best possible representation. For further details about how Lester Morrill’s road traffic team can help you, please contact us.