The UK’s roads policing lead and the CEO of The Road Safety Trust are supporting the findings of an Open University educational project highlighting that hands-free phone use while driving is no safe alternative to hand-held use.

The project called “We need to talk about hands-free”, was aimed at police officers, who are at the frontline of dealing with the devastation that distracted driving can cause, to ensure they are fully informed.

According to the Road Safety Trust, existing research shows drivers using either a hand-held or a hands-free phone are four times more likely to be involved in a collision.

In the latest study, 470 officers from England and Wales took part in an interactive video task designed by researchers at the OU.

Following the task, researchers said officer attitudes to the safety of legal hands-free mobile phone use by drivers dramatically changed, with 88 per cent reporting that, in future encounters with phone-using drivers, they would explain the dangers of all phone use, not just hand-held use.

“Evidence shows that hands-free is as dangerous as physically using a mobile phone,” said Ruth Purdie OBE, chief executive of The Road Safety Trust.

“The cognitive distraction can increase crash risk, reduce hazard detection, and lead to poor situational awareness.

“Therefore, it is vital, as this report highlights, that police officers are not recommending hands-free as a safe alternative to illegally using a hands-free device.”

Chief Constable Jo Shiner, the National Police Chiefs’ Council Lead for Roads Policing, said the work should be applauded and carefully considered by everyone who uses the roads.

The research was funded by The Road Safety Trust and involved fellow academics from the Universities of Staffordshire and Keele.