Calls for ban on hands-free sets too while driving

ABU DHABI — It appears that not only are handset mobile phones blamed for road accidents, but also hands-free ones are believed to be largely associated with road traffic accidents, a medical expert has warned.

By Nada S. Mussallam

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Published: Mon 19 Jun 2006, 11:01 AM

Last updated: Sat 4 Apr 2015, 7:23 PM

“Using cellphones — whether hand-held or hands-free — was detected as a major cause for road accidents,” said Dr Rajeev Gupta, an Abu Dhabi-based consultant cardiologist.

Speaking to Khaleej Times, the expert said using mobiles, including hands-free sets, for a certain duration increases road accidents fourfold as they cause mental distraction. “A recent study conducted in Perth (Australia) concluded that 456 drivers in the age group above 17, who owned or used mobile phones, had been involved in road accidents,” said Dr Gupta. He said the study published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) showed that the use of mobile phones, including hands-free sets for up to 10 minutes while driving, was blamed for increasing traffic accidents fourfold.

“The increased risk was equal in both men and women,” he noted. The medical expert highlighted that there was a general misconception, linking only hand-held mobiles to road accidents. “Most researchers on the subject had initially linked road traffic accidents with hand-held mobile phones. It was thought (though without proof) that the use of hands-free mobiles are safer, and therefore, only the use of hand-held mobiles while driving was banned in many European countries.”

However, averred the expert, not only are hand-held sets risky while driving, hands-free sets too are equally risky. “It is worth mentioning that the use of hands-free mobiles while driving has also proved to cause mental distraction,” cautioned Dr Gupta.

He proposed that in the UAE — where traffic accidents are the major cause of deaths — the authorities concerned should ban the use of hands-free sets too in order to reduce road accidents.

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