Road safety gains from new handheld cellphone law - RePress

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Friday, August 14

Road safety gains from new handheld cellphone law

The Green Party is delighted that at long last the Government is making it an offence to drive while talking or texting on a hand held phone.

“Most other countries banned the use of cell phones while driving years ago. I'm astonished it has taken us so long, especially when there is overwhelming support for a ban,” Green Party MP Sue Kedgley said today.

“It takes only a split second for a lapse in concentration to result in an accident.

“Fumbling around trying to pick up a phone or text inevitably results in a lapse of concentration. Drivers who use cell phones while they drive are endangering the public, as well as their own safety.”

Ms Kedgley said a 2002 UK study found that drivers engaged in a mobile phone conversation are four times as likely to crash than other drivers.

“In that study, drivers reported it was easier to drive drunk than to drive while using a phone, while drivers’ reactions were measured at an average 30 percent slower when talking on a handheld phone than drunk.”

The road rules will change from November 1, making it an offence for drivers to text or talk on a handheld phone while driving, punishable by an $80 fine and 20 demerit points.

Ms Kedgley said all mobile phone calls are distracting. She recommends that even drivers with hands-free car kits pull over to take calls.

* The Mobile Phone Report: A report on the effects of using a hand-held and hands-free mobile phone on road safety http://www.dft.gov.uk/think_media/241042/241120/02-mobilephonereport-directline

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