Is Hands-free phone technology legal and safe?
Posted on 19th September 2019
It’s become such a common add-on now-a-days that if you don’t have hands-free phone technology in your car, it can be seen as weird. But, just because the law says that you can use your phone hands-free, does that make it safe? Or, should our Government being doing more to tackle the opportunities for driving without due care and attention?
First of all, our team of personal injury solicitors in Lancaster have explored what constitutes hands-free: currently, hands-free access includes Bluetooth headsets, voice command devices, a dashboard holder/mat, a windscreen mount, or a build-in sat nav (as set out on the gov.uk website.
The website also sets out that the device MUST NOT block the view of the road, or the traffic ahead, so as not to cause any accidents. And, this probably goes without saying, but you must stay in full control of the vehicle at all times - i.e. the hands-free device cannot distract you when you should be paying attention.
If you’re caught using your device not hands-free, you could be facing 6 penalty points on your licence, £200.00 in fines, and potentially loosing your licence. If you cause an accident, especially one involving personal injury, whilst using a device, the consequences can be much more severe, depending on the consequences of your actions.
It’s helpful to be aware that even if you’re using a device hands-free, if the Police think that you’re not in full control of your vehicle, you can still be stopped and prosecuted for driving without due care and attention, which can result in a fine, points on your licence or even a disqualification from driving, as explained by RAC. If we’re being honest, most of us could do without facing any of the penalties so our team of solicitors in Preston would advise avoiding using the hands-free device whenever it may cause a distraction!
The next question our team of personal injury solicitors in Lancaster are considering is whether hands-free technology, which seems to be becoming more and more popular as latest technology advancements are made, is whether hands-free is actually safer?
Well, in 2017, the Advertising Standards Agency were brought in to investigate complaints that an advert run by the Guardian, advertising Jaguar Land Rover Ltd’s new car, who had used the headline “Drive time is no longer downtime”.
They upheld that whilst Jaguar had specifically stated that the technology should be used “without compromising safety”, the ASA considered that the technology and the way that it was advertised was “irresponsible because it was likely to encourage unsafe driving practices”. The advertisement was found to breach CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 1.3, 4.5 and 19.2, namely relating to Social Responsibility, Harm and Offence, and Motoring, respectively. You can read the ASA’s full judgement, here.
So, why is hands-free technology still potentially dangerous? Well, a study carried out by The New England Journal of Medicine looked into the association between phone calls and collisions, finding that there was a quadrupling of the risk of a collision during even a brief telephone call, even continuing to distract the driver after the call had been ended.
On top of this, the conversation held can affect the driver’s attention to the road, and their reaction time. For example, our solicitors in Preston would imagine that a telephone call received delivering some upsetting – or annoying – news, may distract the driver, without them realising.
Research published by the ASA, also suggests that when a driver is on the phone, their eyes and movement becomes more limited to the area directly in front of them, meaning that they less frequently check the surrounding area and their mirrors. Whilst it may not be something you’ve ever noticed, or thought about, our solicitors in Preston would urge people to take care when driving, and make sure that you’re always checking all of your surroundings.
Many differently outlets have published articles about the use of hands-free technology over the years, such as the Open University and The Conversation, but what is being done about the issues faced with hands-free tech?
Well, according to the website carmagazine.co.uk, the UK Government is considering banning hands-free phone calls in cars, although the limitations of this ban are not currently know. Our solicitors in Preston will keep you updated about car hands-free technology, however we have to agree with carmagazine.co.uk, which has posed the question of whether that’s the most pressing issue; with all the developments of technology in recent years, no one seems to be focusing on the fact that some cars promote text message viewing on screen, as well as the ability to basically use your phone hands-free.
In some people’s opinion, that could basically be considered a loop-hole in the law: as long as it’s hands-free, the technology is legal. The question we should all ask ourselves when we are driving, whether we are using hands-free phone calls, or the text message technology, or even using our sat navs, is are we being safe, and still paying attention to the road?
If you’ve been in an accident that wasn’t your fault, contact our team of personal injury solicitors in Lancaster on 01524 581306, or contact our team, here.
Our team offers all Personal Injury claims on a “No Win, No Fee” basis, and you can keep up to 100% of your compensation. Home visits are also available by appointment.
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