Using mobile phones whilst driving leads to dramatically increased number of driver errors, and can result in a five-fold increase in the likelihood of being involved in a road traffic accident (e.g. Violanti & Marshall, 1996). The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (ROSPA – 2004)  assessed the risk of using  mobile phones whilst driving and concluded that using hands free technology impaired  driving performance and that “the risk of being involved in a collision was four times higher when using a…hands-free phone than when not using one”. A more recent review of the research also suggests that a driver’s performance whilst using a mobile phone with hands-free technology is rarely any better than when holding the device (Lipovac, Ðeric, Tešic, Andric & Maric, 2017). The evidence also seems to suggest that use of a mobile phone whilst driving is more dangerous than holding a conversation with someone who is present in the car (e.g. Ishigami & Klein, 2009).

Lancaster University policy states that staff must not use hand-held mobile phones and similar devices whilst driving, including whilst in a stationary vehicle with the engine running. In line with the research evidence this DClinPsy policy goes further, and directs all staff and trainees during their working day not to either initiating or respond to calls on hand-held devices whilst driving even if a hands-free function is available, except in exceptional circumstances.

Furthermore, staff and trainees should not participate in phone conversations with another party who is driving, even if hands-free technology is in use. If when making or receiving a mobile phone call a trainee or staff member is informed or suspects the other party may be driving, then they should clarify this and immediately suspend any call which would breach this policy until the other party is no longer driving.

Ishigami, Y., Klein, R. (2009). Is a hands-free phone safer than a handheld phone?, Journal of safety research 40 (2), 157-164, ISSN 0022-4375.

Krsto Lipovac, Miroslav Đerić, Milan Tešić, Zoran Andrić, Bojan Marić (2017). Mobile phone use while driving-literary review. Transportation Research Part F: Traffic Psychology and Behaviour (47), 132-142.

Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (2004). The Risk of Using a Mobile Phone While Driving. Birmingham: ROSPA Retrieved from www.rospa.com/rospaweb/docs/advice-services/road-safety/drivers/mobile-phone-report.pdf

Violanti, J., Marshall, J. (1996). Cellular phones and traffic accidents: an epidemiological approach. Accident, analysis & prevention 28 (2), 265-70.