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Hands-free mobiles ‘should be banned while driving’

Drivers should be banned from using hands-free mobile phones in England and Wales, according to road safety experts.

They warned that current laws give the ‘misleading impression’ that hands-free options are safe.

Expert told MPs at Westminster that taking a hands-free phone call was as dangerous as being over the legal drink-drive limit.

They urged the government to consider making hands-free calls a criminal offence in England and Wales.

Dr Shaun Helman, a chief scientist at the Transport Research Laboratory, said the risks were as great – if not worse – than being over the legal drink-drive limit.

He said his research showed the distraction from hands-free calling made it four times more likely a driver would crash.

It has been illegal to use a handheld phone at the wheel since 2003 in Malta and Gozo.

A Department for Transport spokeswoman said: ‘While mobile phones are a vital part of modern life and business, drivers must always use them safely and responsibly.

‘Being distracted by a mobile phone while driving is dangerous and puts people’s lives at risk.

‘The law is clear that anyone driving dangerously is committing a criminal offence.’

A total of 3,197 people were fined for driving while using their mobile phone between January and July, according to figures from Malta Police.