Using a hands-free mobile phone at the wheel is no safer than using a hand-held device.
That’s the top line finding from a summary of peer-reviewed research prepared by Dr Adrian Davis, a visiting professor at the University of West England.
Dr Davis publishes a series of single page ‘essential evidence’ summaries to help disseminate academic research to road safety practitioners.
In his latest summary, Dr Davis says using either a hands-free or hand-held phone at the wheel increases crash risk fourfold.
Dr Davis adds that under-reporting of mobile phone use at crash scenes is hampering efforts to reduce collisions and casualties.
The paper acknowledges that mobile phone use while driving is ‘widely prevalent’ in many countries across the globe – adding that the offence is one of the most serious forms of distraction because it requires visual, physical and cognitive attention from the driver.
Dr Davis also suggests that text messaging might be more dangerous than making or receiving a phone call – because texting divert’s the driver’s attention away from the road for at least five seconds.
Based on a literature review of more than 60 studies, his paper identifies a link between drivers who use a mobile phone at the wheel and those who often don’t wear a seatbelt.
He adds that younger males with less driving experience and (in most cases) people who drive newer and more powerful vehicles, are more likely to use a mobile phone – due to ‘self-assurance’ and a tendency to overestimate skills.
In his conclusion, Dr Davis says the true impact of the contribution of mobile phones to road traffic collisions is ‘masked by deficiencies in reporting’ – adding that there is a need to design a more effective means of detecting and analysing mobile phone usage at the scene of a crash.