It's common knowledge that using a mobile phone while driving a car is illegal – and attracts an instant £200 fine and six penalty points.
But police are now urging motorists to think twice about talking on hands-free devices at the wheel, after a woman was convicted for causing death by dangerous driving while using one.
Samantha Ayres, 34, of Horncastle, Lincolnshire, killed 26-year-old David Kirk after colliding head-on with his motorcycle while she was distracted by a hands-free phone call.
Ayres initially claimed she had hit a pothole or rut in the road which caused her to lose control. But police investigators found no evidence to support this, and instead found she was distracted by the 27-minute conversation. She was sentenced at Lincolnshire Crown Court on December 6 to three years in prison, and handed a four-and-a-half year disqualification from driving.
While using hands-free devices at the wheel remains legal, police are warning motorists that it can still represent a severe distraction. Ewan Gell, Lincolnshire Police temporary inspector of the serious collision investigation unit said: "Anything that distracts you from that singular act of driving, you should put it away to one side and think 'I'm not going to do that until I've finished what I'm doing'.
"If you want to talk to somebody, want to use a mobile device or mess about with your music – in fact, anything that distracts you from doing the task in hand of driving – you should think twice about.
"We will investigate every single aspect of a crash and if that turns up, as it did in this case, evidence of a prolonged conversation and you can link that to the cause of the crash, that's when a lot of people are going to have a problem."
Judge John Pini, sentencing, said: "Using a hands-free in these circumstances is dangerous.
"Nothing I say can turn the clock back. No sentence will ever begin to make amends for his death.
"For him to lose his life in this way is as irrational as it is unfair."