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.
‘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.