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Driving whilst distracted is a huge cause of accidents. The fact is that driving is a complex task, and you need to focus your entire attention on what’s happening on the road in front of you. When you consider the fact that you’re driving at least a ton and a half of metal at around sixty miles an hour down the motorway, the idea that you would do anything other than concentrate on what you are doing seems ridiculous. And yet so many of us try to divide our attention between driving and doing something else, whether it’s eating, talking, messing with the radio, or using our phones.

Ban On Phone Use

Many countries nowadays have placed bans on the use of mobile phone use in cars unless the driver is using a hands free device. This is definitely a step in the right direction. Thousands  of accidents per year are caused by drivers who are using mobile devices in their cars. A hands free headset or setting on your phone at least allows you to drive with both hands.

Some locations also ban the sending of text messaging. The fact that in the majority of places it’s still okay to send text messages whilst driving is quite surprising, since when sending a message you not only need to drive one handed, but also need ro focus on the screen of your phone. However, there are more and more places that are considering banning the use of phones in cars all together when the car is in motion.

Why Not Hands Free?

You may think that by using a hands free set you’re driving safely, but experts think that this is not the case. Any time that your phone is switched on in the car is a distraction to you. Concentrating on the phone conversation that you’re having, even if you’re using hands free, is a distraction and could cause an accident.

Not only that, but in a lot of cases you don’t automatically receive calls in hands free mode, and need to switch your attention either to your phone or your radio in order to switch on hands free mode. That second when you’re attention is off the road is when you can have your accident.

Plus, when your phone is switched on, it’s always tempting to check that email that you just received, or the text message that just came through. After all, it’s only for half a second, right? That won’t do any harm, will it? In truth these brief seconds or nanoseconds of inattention are the causes of accidents. The only way of driving safely with your phone in the car is to have your phone switched completely off.

What Are My Options?

There is an application for smart phones currently pending patent which will automatically switch your phone off when you put the car key in the ignition. It was designed to stop teen drivers texting and driving, but will be a good thing for the forgetful amongst us, who might not remember to switch their phones off every time.

However, for now, you’re just going to have to settle for switching your phone off manually. You can use a silent setting if you wish, making sure that the phone neither vibrates or illuminates its screen so that you won’t know if anything arrives or someone calls. But the safest idea is to have it switched off.

Some modern phones have automatic message settings both for received text messages and missed calls that alert the caller or message sender to the fact that you’re driving and will get right back to them. This is a good idea if you’re afraid of missing an important call.

Phil Turner sees people every day driving with the phone to one ear, even police drivers do it. He thinks that anyone getting a car insurance quote after being stopped for using the phone should automatically lose any no-claims discount. After all they have shown that they have zero regard for road safety by using their phone while driving.