Mobile telephones have become a standard piece of equipment for many of us today. They're invaluable for keeping in touch with colleagues the office, making and breaking appointments and calling for help should an emergency arise.

But they're not good news for safe driving. Even drivers using a hands-free mobile phone cannot concentrate fully on the road if their attention is distracted by a phone call.

Mobile phones and driving can mean trouble

Real?life incidents confirm: if you are driving in a situation that demands a lot of your attention, then performing another task like answering and talking on a phone can affect your concentration and your driving.

Some situations that can cause real problems when using a mobile phone while driving include:

  • complex traffic situations (e.g. at intersections, during peak hour, or where there is a hazard such as road works)
  • when overtaking or turning
  • changing road conditions (e.g. winding road, potholes, unsealed surfaces or limited overtaking opportunities)
  • foul weather conditions (e.g. rain, hail or fog reducing visibility, high winds effecting steering).

What are the alternatives?

Where possible use a message bank service to take your calls while you are driving.

To minimise the risks if you must take or make calls:

  • pull off the road when it is safe to do so.
  • ring the caller back when you are stationary.
  • respond to calls with a brief message to return the call when you are not driving.

Apart from being safer, this will enable you to give any phone call your full attention.

The Law

You must not use a hand-held mobile phone while your vehicle is moving or is stationary in traffic (e.g. at traffic lights). You may, however, use a hand held phone while parked.

You are permitted to use a mobile phone fitted with a "hands-free kit" while driving. But you must always drive with due care and never attempt to dial a number while driving.