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Car accidents » Mobile phone usage

On 1st December 2003 new legislation banning the use of hand held mobile phones whilst driving was introduced to try to bring down the number of car accident casualties in the UK.This was a long time in coming, with a study from 6 years previously showing 92% of people believed that the use of mobile phones while driving was dangerous.

The causes of car accidents are not recorded, so there are no firm statistics to state exactly how many people have been killed or injured as a result of drivers using hand held mobile phones.However, news stories reported on 20 separate fatalities between 1998 and 2003 that were linked with this practice, although the real figures are likely to be much higher.

A Canadian study found that the use of a mobile phone whilst driving up to 10 minutes before increased the likelihood of a car accident happening fourfold.

What are the effects of driving whilst talking on a mobile phone?

A Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) report found that mobile phones impaired:

  • The maintenance of correct road position
  • The keeping of appropriate speed
  • The keeping of appropriate distance to the car in front
  • Reaction times
  • The judging of when a safe gap was coming up in traffic
  • General awareness

Using a mobile phone impacts on the two faculties that are employed whilst driving, causing both physical and mental distraction and increasing the chance of a car accident.

Physical distraction

When the phone rings when someone is driving, the physical distraction caused by looking at the phone and then taking the hand away from the wheel to press a button is considerable, These distractions still apply to most hands free mobile phones, meaning that the only safe option is to not use your mobile phone at all whilst driving.

The new legislation does prevent the driver not having proper physical control of the car with the banning of specifically hand held mobile phones.The RoSPA report found that users of hand held mobiles took an extra 46 feet to stop compared to road users who were not using their mobiles, and hands free mobile users took an extra 26 feet to stop.

Mental distraction

However, many people feel that the mental distraction caused by a mobile phone conversation is worse than the physical, and the legislation does not cover this.The mental processing that goes on whilst you are driving is high because there are many factors to consider that are constantly changing.Once the additional mental processing of talking on the phone is added, the brain becomes overloaded and you cannot concentrate on everything at once.

The difference between simple and complex telephone calls has an influence on the level of distraction the more complex the telephone call is, the more likely that the driver will not be aware of the road situation, but even a simple conversation results in a 20% chance of the driver not seeing a dangerous situation developing.

Even though there is no legislation against hands free kits, it is much safer for a driver to switch off their phone so they can give their full concentration to the road around them.The dangers that mobile phones cause whilst driving are clear, and yet many people still do it.A recent study found that only 1 in 4 drivers said that they would never answer their telephone whilst driving.

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Our personal injury solicitors have an excellent success rate, and are dedicated to providing the very best representation for you and helping you get the maximum compensation possible.Our solicitors work on a no win, no fee basis, and we protect you from all costs.

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