Phone chat is bigger danger than booze

CHATTER KILLS: Alex Ille and John Siddle (right) spread the message about drink-driving ' but phone chat is fatal too. SG070911-222NG
CHATTER KILLS: Alex Ille and John Siddle (right) spread the message about drink-driving ' but phone chat is fatal too. SG070911-222NG
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Road safety chiefs in Lincolnshire are backing a campaign to ban hands-free phones in cars, saying banter at the wheel is more dangerous than driving while drunk.

John Siddle, from Lincolnshire Road Safety Partnership, says research proves motorists cannot focus on the conversation and the road at the same time.

He said the same part of the brain is used to process both the visual information seen through the windscreen and the words from the caller.

“Your reaction time is 35 per cent less than a drunk driver,” he said. “You will appreciate that any amount of alcohol does slow your reaction time. To have that slowed down – and add another 35 per cent – it is going to be quite significant.”

Mr Siddle said drivers chatting on the phone will miss bits of the conversation and bits of the journey.

“It’s a really bad one as far as we are concerned,” he said.

Lincolnshire has had three phone related crashes in the last year – two drivers were jailed for causing death by careless driving.

A third case saw a car driver killed when he ran into a lorry. The lorry driver was texting at the time, but not at fault in the accident.

The national road safety charity Brake says 98 per cent of motorists are unable to divide their time between phone chat and driving.

Brake wants a ban on hands-free mobiles in cars. In the meantime the charity suggests drivers should switch off phones while driving – and callers should refuse to talk to someone who is driving.