The latest research into the impact of using cell phones while driving has found that drivers who chat on their phones when they're at the wheel are four times more likely to crash, regardless of whether they use a hands-free kit, than other motorists.

The latest research into the impact of using cell phones while driving has found that drivers who chat on their phones when they're at the wheel are four times more likely to crash, regardless of whether they use a hands-free kit, than other motorists.

Researchers at two Australian universities examined data from emergency rooms in Perth, where the telephone companies had consented to their billing records being examined. Reviewing data for the drivers involved in accidents from April 2002 to July 2004, they found that drivers were more likely to be using their phones up to ten minutes prior to the incidents.

This occurred regardless of the driver's age, gender or type of phone used. Inclement weather was also ruled out as a contributing factor.

A spokesman for the University of Western Australia said: "More new vehicles are being equipped with hands-free phone technology. Although this may lead to fewer hand-held phones used while driving in the future, our research indicates that this may not eliminate the risk. Indeed, if this new technology increases mobile phone use in cars, it could contribute to even more crashes."

The study found that 89 per cent of the accidents involved another vehicle and more than half of the accidents occurred within the first ten minutes of the journey. Following the release of the report, Britain's Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents has called for a total ban on the use of cell phones in cars. Using a hand-held cellphone while driving a vehicle is illegal in South Africa.

Original article from Car