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post #9 of (permalink) Old 27th February 2007
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I think it's clear that using a hands-free mobile phone is safer than using a handheld one. The issue is whether or not the simple act of taking a phone call is distracting enough to cause a safety issue in itself.

I've already given examples of how my awareness of my surroundings has been compromised by driving and holding an 'involved' phone conversation at the same time. I'm a great believer that having certain kinds of conversation is indeed a significant distraction. I'd say it's also a given that it makes me less aware of potential hazards on the road - if I'm not spotting speed cameras, then I'm probably missing that car that might be about to jump out of a side turning.

What I don't think it affects is my ability to respond to an emergency situation should it present itself. I have had to react to driving emergencies while on the phone before now, and my instant reflex reaction is to give my full attention to the situation on the road.

So if there's a problem, it's with my ability to assess potential hazards and adapt my driving before they turn into emergencies. But as I see it, if a car pulls out of a side turning in front of me or a pedestrian just steps out into the road without looking, the accident is still their fault. I don't want to be held responsible just because I happened to be in the middle of a telephone conversation, even if it could be argued that the accident wouldn't have occurred if I hadn't been on the phone.
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