Dangers of mobile phones

Motorists using mobile phones - including hands-free devices - can be sufficiently distracted to be regarded as unsafe, according to Government research. Baroness Hayman, the road safety minister, told peers that "there is an association between telephone use and increased accident risk".

The report, by the Transport Research Laboratory, says there was a quadrupling of the risk of collision during a phone-call in a car - and that hands- free devices offered "no advantage in that context". Drivers were also 30 per cent less likely to respond to a hazard than "phone-free" motorists when having an "intense conversation" on a "hands-free" telephone. Police can charge motorists whose driving is affected by using a telephone.

Many experts agree mobile-phone conversations while driving should be avoided. The problem for ministers is how to proceed. Lady Hayman is working on a code of practice with mobile-phone companies and motoring interests.

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