Talking on a hands-free mobile phone while at the wheel could be as dangerous as drink-driving, according to new research.
A university study found that people are as impaired when they drive and talk on a mobile as they are when motoring while over the legal alcohol limit.
For the study, 40 participants drove a driving simulator four times - once while not distracted, once using a mobile phone, once using a hands-free phone, and while intoxicated after drinking vodka and orange juice.
They followed a simulated "pace" car that braked intermittently. The researchers found that both hand-held and hands-free phones impaired driving, with no significant difference in the degree of impairment. The study found that compared with drivers who were not distracted, those who talked on hand-held or hands-free phones drove slightly slower and were nine per cent slower to hit the brakes.