Road safety campaign group Brake has said it’d like to see the government extending the ban on using hand-held mobile devices in cars to cover hands-free kits mobile usage too.
The call comes as the charity launches a national campaign to coincide with the start of Road Safety Week.
It’s asking drivers to ‘tune in to road safety’, to stop multi-tasking behind the wheel, and to turn their phones off and put them in the boot.
The charity revealed that half a million British motorists have points on their license for mobile phone use.
It said that using a hands-free mobile phone can reduce a driver’s reaction times by up to 50%, and can even cause a driver to react 30% more slowly than if he or she was driving at the legal blood alcohol limit.
It also said that drivers who think they can multi-task are fooling themselves, with research showing that 98% are unable to divide their time without it affecting performance.
Julie Townsend, the charity’s deputy chief executive, said: “We’re living in an age when being constantly connected is the norm; more and more of us have smartphones, and find it hard to switch off, even for a minute.
“Many people who wouldn't dream of drink-driving are succumbing to using their phone and other distractions while driving, oblivious that the effect can be similar and the consequences just as horrific.
“We’re calling on UK drivers to tune into road safety: turn off your phone or put it in the boot, and never try to multi-task at the wheel. We’re also appealing to everyone to refuse to chat to someone on the phone who’s driving, to help them arrive safely.
“We are also calling on government to do more to tackle driver distraction, by extending the ban to hands-free phones at the wheel, and further upping fines for the potentially deadly offence of driving distracted.”