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

Case Dismissed – Prosecution failure leads to collapse of drug driving case

This last week at Carlisle’s Rickergate Magistrates’ Court, our client had entered not guilty pleas to two allegations – one of driving while under the influence of cannabis and another that he drove with 16 times the legal limit for cocaine in his system. However the case was thrown out by District Judge Gerald Chalk,...

Eurofins Forensic lab forced to stop testing

Eurofins Forensic lab forced to stop testing   Police have suspended work with the UK’s largest private forensic lab following a cyber-attack earlier this month.   Eurofins Forensic services, responsible for carrying out sample Toxicology analysis for police forces across the UK, suffered a ransomware attack on the 3rd June demanding payment in order to...

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...

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