Motorists should be banned from using hands-free phones while driving, according to the lawyer who has successfully defended a series of celebrities accused of such offenses.
His comments came despite the revelation that he will be defending former Chelsea player Frank Lampard for allegedly holding a cup of coffee and talking on the phone while driving in South Kensington.
New laws are expected to come into force next year that will tighten rules around wearable devices and ban people from using them for ânon-interactiveâ activities such as taking photos or scrolling through playlists while driving.
However, motorists will still be allowed to use their phones to make hands-free calls and use satellite navigation apps, as long as the device is secured in a cradle.
But Nick Freeman – the lawyer nicknamed “Mr. Loophole” because of his expertise in eliminating legal problems for clients – said the law does not go far enough and called for a complete ban on cellphones while driving. .
He warned that any use of a phone while driving, even if it is secured in a cradle and hands-free, serves as a distraction and could lead to accidents.
“Any form of use must be prohibited”
In the past, Mr. Freeman has successfully defended Jimmy Carr, accused of using his phone while driving.
He argued that the comedian was recording a joke rather than making a call and therefore was not involved in “interactive communication”.
But he has now warned of the dangers of using a phone for any purpose while driving and called on the government to introduce a comprehensive ban.
He said: âIn my opinion, any form of phone use, except in emergencies, should be banned. The government must say that any use of a cell phone in a car should be banned even if it is hands free and rests in a cradle.
“If we are talking about making our roads safer, why say you can use a phone for this purpose or for that purpose if it is in a cradle when in reality it is just as dangerous as if you had it? pressed against your ear.
“The stakes are just too high”
âIn terms of distraction, hands-free mode has been assimilated to a level just below the level at which you are allowed to drink and drive.
âWhich means the chances of you having an accident while using your hands free are quadrupled. The stakes are just too high.
In 2016, psychologists at the University of Sussex found that driving while talking on a hands-free phone can be as distracting as talking on a cell phone.
The study, published in the Transportation Research Journal, found that this was because the conversations made the motorist visually imagine what he was talking about.
Mr Freeman also suggested that the penalties for using cell phones while driving should also be much more severe.
He said: âThe difficulty with all laws is enforcement. So if there are no police on the street, it doesn’t matter what you do with the legislation.
âSo we need a sanction that is self-regulating and we must socially stigmatize any use of the mobile phone while driving in the same way as we do with drinking and driving.
âIf the level of distraction for using the phone is the same as drunk driving, I see no reason why the penalty shouldn’t be exactly the same – a disqualification of at least 12 months.
“With this sanction, the vast majority of those tempted would have doubts and would abstain.”