Research from the University of Sussex has found that driving whilst talking on a hands-free phone has the potential to be just as distracting as using a hand-held mobile. Road safety charity, Brake has used the research as a springboard to call for the Government to once again analyse the laws around mobile phone use whilst driving. The study was published in the Transportation Research Journal and showed that drivers engaged in conversations sparking their visual imagination suffer in their ability to spot and react to potential hazards. Their focus when asked about a subject that require them to visualise narrowed and they became less able to see hazards: even hazards they were looking directly at. Having any conversation that requires visual imagination creates competition for the brain's processing capacity, meaning that drivers can miss potential dangers they might otherwise have seen. Researchers claim the evidence shows more of the brain's resources are used for conversations than was previously understood. The study is the latest to look at the increased risk that occurs when mobile phones are used by those driving. Previous research estimated that up to 22 per cent of crashes could be caused by some form of distraction and that drivers who use their phones (or perform any other kind of secondary task) at the wheel can be three times more likely to crash. Studies also shown that using a mobile phone at the wheel can be more dangerous than drinking certain kinds of alcohol. For instance, driver reaction times were found to be 30 per cent slower when using a hands-free phone than they were when driving with a blood alcohol level of 80 mg alcohol per hundred millilitres of blood: the legal limit in England and Wales. What's more, the reactions of mobile phone using drivers were found to be 50 per cent slower than those driving under normal conditions. Lucy Amos, research advisor for Brake, said: 'Distracted driving is a major cause behind road crashes; pulling the drivers' attention away from the road and its potential hazards, potentially leading to fatal outcomes. 'This new study is only the latest of many which adds weight to extending the existing legislation to cover all mobile phone use within a vehicle, not just the use of hand-held mobile devices. 'We call on the Government to take action and remove the clear and present danger of mobile phones on our roads.î