Hudgell Solicitors is supporting the campaign by national road safety charity Brake to introduce new laws banning the use of hands-free phone systems in vehicles, as statistics have shown talking at the wheel makes drivers four times more likely to cause injury.
Despite using a hand-held phone while driving being made illegal in 2003, thousands of drivers still blatantly flout the law, putting themselves and others at great risk.
Using a hands-free kit to talk is currently allowed, but a driver can still be stopped if police believe they are being distracted.
With more than two in five crashes believed to be caused, at least in part, by driver distraction, Brake is now calling for hands-free systems to be banned also.
It comes as a recent survey carried out by the charity found that 49 per cent of 17-24 year olds had taken work calls while on the road, compared with 17 per cent for all age groups.
About 35 per cent of young people said they had spoken to family when driving, and 21 per cent with friends, compared with 23 per cent and 15 per cent overall.
A recent observational study by the Department for Transport also identified that motorists who use phones are more likely to be texting or using social media than actually making calls.
Now, the charity is not only calling for the ban on hands-free calls, but also advising drivers to put their phones on silent while driving, with their phone away from them, preventing them from being tempted to pick it up.
On its website, the charity says: “Drivers can help make our roads safer by putting phones out of sight and reach when driving to avoid temptation, ideally in the boot.
“On long journeys, you should take regular breaks and use these to check for messages. Phones and driving are a deadly combination, and no call or message is worth a life.
“We are calling on government to ban hands-free phones at the wheel, in line with the evidence that they increase crash risk just as much as hand-helds. It’s the distraction of the phone conversation itself that causes the danger.”
Jane Woodcock, senior legal executive and personal injury manager at Hudgell Solicitors, said: “In our work handling injury claims relating to hundreds of road traffic accident cases each year, we have seen the increasing danger of distraction in modern society, and in particular on the roads.
“Modern life has made our roads more dangerous, and at present it requires a lot of self-discipline when driving not to pick up that mobile phone when it sounds to alert you to a message or an email, never mind a telephone call.
“We agree with Brake. With drivers continuing to flout the laws around mobile phone use, putting people at risk, the only way to eradicate this danger would be for mobile phones to have to be placed in a closed space, such as the glove compartment when a car is being driven, and for hands-free calls to also be stopped.
“It may seem drastic action, but maybe drastic action is what is needed to get the message through and improve concentration levels behind the wheel.”
Ministers are currently considering doubling the number of penalty points drivers are given when they are caught driving while speaking on a mobile phone. It would mean a driving ban for anyone who was caught twice in three years.
Brake is also calling for much higher penalty for phone use at the wheel – from the current £100 to at least £500, so drivers take the law more seriously.