Note: This advice is given by the CAP Executive about non-broadcast advertising. It does not constitute legal advice. It does not bind CAP, CAP advisory panels or the Advertising Standards Authority.


Since 1 December 2003, it has been a specific offence to use a hand-held phone, or similar device, when driving. CAP understands that, whilst hands-free equipment is not explicitly prohibited, hands-free calls can nevertheless be distracting and might result in drivers driving without reasonable control. The CAP Code states that ads should not promote irresponsible behaviour (Rule 1.3), incite readers to break the law (Rule 1.10) or encourage an unsafe practice (Rule 4.5) and, as such, marketing communications that show a driver using a mobile phone, or any other device that is likely to cause a distraction whilst driving, are likely to breach the Code. In 2009 the ASA held that an ad which featured an image of a TV screen in a car, in full view of the driver, was irresponsible and likely to encourage unsafe driving practices (RAM Mobile Electronics Ltd, 28 October 2009).

The ASA has also upheld complaints about advertisements that have promoted hands-free devices as being safe or safer alternatives to conventional handsets when driving (Toyota (GB) plc, 16 June 2004 and Home Service Mail Order Ltd, 11 Oct 2000).

See Safety and Types of claims: Safe.


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