A new survey suggests that a ban on the use of hands-free phones would have devastating financial implications on businesses. The TrackCompare survey garnered the opinions of over 100 fleet operators, with 68 per cent of respondents saying a ban would reduce their turnover by more than 25 per cent, with another third believing their revenues would as much as halve. Following a ban of hand-held devices in 2003, motorists caught using their phone manually face a fixed penalty if caught, together with three penalty points and a fine of £100. While the use of hands-free devices is not illegal, the police can penalise a driver if they are deemed not to be in control of their vehicle. With research demonstrating that drivers using hands-free devices react 50 per cent slower when than during normal driving, road safety charity, Brake, has demanded that they are banned from vehicles: It is very worrying to see that, despite fleet operators accepting that hands-free devices distract drivers, there is still unwillingness to ban the use of such devices,Ó said Laura Woods, from Brake. International research shows that drivers who talk on a phone, whether hand-held or hands-free, are four times more likely to be in a crash that causes injury. It is vital that fleet operators take action to protect their employees as well as other road users from the risk of causing death or serious injury by driving distracted.Ó With constant communication integral to most businesses, it is clear that fleets see hand-free kits as a way of adding value to their operations in the long term. Kjell Anderton, a director of TrackCompare, said: Fleet operators are being pulled in two directions. Safety must always come first. But it should not be overlooked that fleet operators rely on in-vehicle communications for a range of efficiency and productivity improvements.Ó However despite clear evidence against their use, critics have questioned the rationality behind banning the use of hands-free devices, particularly when itÕs not possible to ban conversations with passengers, although additional research has shown that the former leads to lower comparative reaction times and speed control. Passengers have been shown to cause fewer distractions to drivers than hand-held devices, although those who slow their conversation rate down are least likely of all to cause an accident overall.