Mobile risk to drivers

Hands-free kits could increase risk of crashes

Using a "hands-free" phone while driving does not reduce the risk of crashing and could even contribute to even more smashes, warns a report out today.

Researchers found that people who rabbit on a mobile phone while driving are four times more likely to have a serious crash even if they use a "hands-free" device.

Some 450 drivers involved in crashes in Perth, Western Australia were quizzed about what they were doing immediately before an accident.

Researchers found that the risk of crashing increased among those using a mobile phone "whether or not a hands-free device was used".

The results of this research seems to suggest that even though more and more new vehicles are being equipped with hands-free phone technology, this will do little to prevent accidents.

In fact, it could make the situation even worse.

"Although this may lead to fewer hand held phones used while driving in the future, our research indicates that this may not eliminate the risk," warn the researchers.

"Indeed, if this new technology increases mobile phone use in cars, it could contribute to even more crashes."

In February boffins from the University of Utah claimed that a 20-year-old blabbing on a mobile phone while driving has the same reaction times as a 70-year-old.

Researchers also found that it doesn't matter whether they're chatting with a phone jammed to their ear or using a hands-free kit because "any activity requiring a driver to actively be part of a conversation likely will impair driving abilities". ®

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