Request a call back
Request a callback

If you would like to take advantage of our free expert legal advice, please get in touch. You can usually speak with a specialist straight away.

or call us on:
0151 422 8020

Fields marked with an * are required

Hands-Free. Not as safe as you think.

Conor Johnstone
8 June 2016

Drivers using hands-free are equally as distracted when driving, a study reveals.

Researchers at The University of Sussex found that hands-free kits are no safer than those who use their phones as normal, despite the law condoning – and encouraging – the use of hands-free kits in cars. The study calls for all phones, including hands-free kits, to be banned from cars. Of course, that would require action from parliament to implement a new law prohibiting this – which we can’t see happening any time in the near future.

The study involved 20 male and 40 female participants who took part in video tests while sitting in a car seat behind a steering wheel.

The study also revealed that not all conversations are dangerous. It all depends on the ‘type’ of conversation the driver is having. Researchers founds that drivers who were asked to discuss an object – and therefore visualise it – reacted just over a second slower to realistic driving hazards than those who were not using a mobile phone. Perhaps more shocking is that drivers using hands-free kits detected and reacted to less than half as many hazards. Dr Graham Hole, senior lecturer at the University of Sussex, has explained that a second may not sound like much, “but at 30mph you’re travelling at 13 metres per second. You require a stopping distance equal to three-and-a-quarter Ford Fiestas.”

Dr Graham Hole has explained that when a driver is demanded to imagine an image, their mind begins to compete with the visual imagery in front of them, such as a cyclist, for example.

Is it illegal to use a hands-free kit whilst driving?

Under present law it is not illegal to make a telephone call whilst using a hands-free device, providing you are not distracted by it. However, many hands-free devices do require the user to touch the phone before accepting or making a call. The fact that you were operating a device, or talking into it whilst driving, may amount to a higher degree of culpability if you were involved in a serious collision. It can, in some circumstances, amount to dangerous driving (which can carry a custodial sentence).

The CPS will consider the severity of incident and the likelihood of a conviction before laying charges.  The SGC Definitive Guideline states that “driving whilst avoidably and dangerously distracted such as talking to and looking at a passenger, selecting and lighting a cigarette or by adjusting the controls of electronic equipment such as a radio, hands-free mobile phone or satellite navigation equipment” are likely to be characterised as dangerous driving.

Road Traffic Offences – Guidance on Charging Offences arising from Driving Incidents

If you have been charged with an offence involving a mobile phone, and would like to consider your options, please call our team of specialists on 0151 244 8020. You can also find more information on our dedicated Speeding offences website –

University of Sussex – Study Findings

M.A.J. Law

Related Articles

Solicitor, Conor Johnstone, discussed drug driving on BBC Radio 1 Extra

Our senior solicitor, Conor Johnstone, will be at BBC Radio 1 Extra’s studio this Sunday (21st April 2019) to discuss the law surrounding drug driving. Tune in to hear more.

Drug Driving Convictions Quashed

A BBC report has found that at least 40 drug driving convictions have been quashed after results were found to be incorrect.   It is unclear why Randox Testing Services, a Manchester based laboratory, manipulated data to create false positive results. It is not known how widespread this issue is and how many samples have been...

Drunk in charge – M.A.J Law

Recent Success – Drunk in charge of a motor vehicle M.A.J Law were successful in a recent case relating to being drunk in charge of a vehicle. The Crown Prosecution Service took a very hard line approach to the case and charged our client with two offences: being in charge of a vehicle whilst in excess...

Drink & Drug Driving Mitigation

Mitigation to reduce your ban.

Save your licence

M.A.J. Law specialise in defending motorists nationwide. Our team have over 50 years of combined experience and first-hand knowledge of most courts in England and Wales. Free advice? Please get in touch.

Fields marked with an * are required