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Jaguar XE ad banned for promoting 'unsafe' hands-free technology

An "irresponsible" ad for the new Jaguar XE car's hands-free mobile technology has been banned for encouraging unsafe driving.

The advertorial for Jaguar Land Rover, which appeared in The Guardian, described new in-car features such as wi-fi connectivity and smartphone-integrated apps, allowing the driver to "organise your next meeting and stay in touch with colleagues and family on the move".

It said: "For busy executives, the car is increasingly becoming an extension of the work place. What was once a cocoon of time in limbo is being transformed into productive reclaimed time."

Defending the ad, Jaguar Land Rover said it had specifically stated that any of the described functions of the car should be used without compromising safety.

The car-maker believed that its hands-free features ergonomically benefited the driver and reduced the risk of distraction, allowing them to keep their eyes on the road.

Guardian News and Media believed that the advertorial did not condone or encourage unsafe or irresponsible driving but instead placed an emphasis on safety.

Upholding two complaints, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) said it accepted that driving while using a hands-free mobile phone kit was not illegal.

However, it noted that the Highway Code stated that using hands-free equipment was likely to distract drivers and advised stopping to make or take calls, while satellite navigation systems, congestion warning systems, PCs and multi-media could also be dangerous.

It pointed out that drivers could be stopped by police if they were considered not to be in full control of a vehicle because of being distracted, which could result in a motoring offence.

The ASA said: "Whilst we understood that work-related activities and communicating with family could be carried out in the car via hands-free technology, we considered that they were likely to distract a driver's attention from the road and therefore preventing them from having full control of the vehicle.

"Therefore, we concluded that the advertorial was irresponsible because it was likely to encourage unsafe driving practices."

It ruled that the ad must not appear again in its current form and told Jaguar Land Rover that their future advertising must not encourage drivers to carry out such tasks that were likely to distract their attention from the road.

The ASA's ruling comes a week after tougher penalties for motorists using phones came into force.

New drivers face losing their licence the first time they are caught using a phone behind the wheel, while penalties and fines for offenders were doubled to six points and £200 respectively from March 1.

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