Published in Indaily of Monday 7-Feb-2011.
Push to ban car phones
Nicky Phillips : Fairfax
Tough new laws to ban all mobile phone use in vehicles are being considered by transport ministers after a landmark report found that even hands-free devices dramatically increased the risk of crashing.
The report by state transport heads reflects the growing concern about distraction to drivers involved in accidents.
It found: ”Mobile phone use produces a significant increase in casualty crash risk, regardless of whether the phone is hand-held or hands-free.”
The draft national road safety report, which federal and state ministers are reviewing, stated: ”There is evidence to support bans on all mobile phone use while driving.”
The federal parliamentary secretary for infrastructure and transport, Catherine King, said on average 1500 people died on Australian roads each year.
”We’ve come to the conclusion that we are going to have to do things differently if we are going to get that road toll lower,” she said.
Ms King acknowledged it would be difficult for many people to stop using hands-free phones, so the first step of the strategy would be to encourage drivers of heavy vehicles, buses, taxis and government cars to stop using hands-free phones voluntarily.
An online survey of Victorian drivers found almost 60 per cent of people who owned a mobile phone admit using it while driving. The leader of the research, Kristie Young, said most people recognised that using a phone while driving was dangerous.
”But drivers seem to have this optimistic bias where they don’t think it will happen to them, or they are better than the average driver,” said Dr Young, a research fellow at the accident research centre.
”Drivers have this really low perception that they are going to be caught.”
I posted the article without stating a personal opinion. Got people posting.
Patrick, would be safer if more drivers were as careful as you.
Hozozco, interesting what you wrote. Had not heard of that before. Let us know if you find the study.
Michael, you have a point that passengers, unlike person phoning, can tell when to pause the conversation.
Slammin, the person who suggested (did not recommend) that people wear helmets in cars is a professor with the Adelaide car accident research unit (cannot think of exact name). I went to his presentation during Brain Injury Awareness Week and saw the visual aids.
What I noticed about this thread is that part-time cyclists who generally support measures to improve our safety suddenly switch sides when things they like to do when driving are questioned.
Michael, you are right. Recently I was surprised when a cyclist said he would object to a 40 km/h speed limit in residential streets, because he also drives. So do I, although a bicycle is my main transport. I reminded him that much safer for cyclists, and car occupants, but that did not change his mind. Since then I read of a survey where about half of cyclists (who obviously travel by car also) objected to lower speed limits.
I've no doubt that all drivers are less engaged, even if using a hands free kit. I don't believe I am more disengaged by using the phone than by listening to the car radio (laughed out loud tonight listening to Fitzy on Nova) It's about managing that distraction.
Same as on the bike and looking across 4 lanes of traffic to give "the nod" to cyclists coming the other way (whilst checking out their bikes), is that not a distraction. I've never spoeken to anyone in the car alongside me whislt I drive but will talk to a fellow cyclist alongside, I've never raced my car on the road but on the bike I'll happily try and chase someone down and pass them. All distractions to some degree or other, all manageable.
Some say not distracted when using a mobile phone; some say there are other distracting things.
If I drive occasionally with someone else's children who are being disruptive, I pull over and wait until they calm down. Do not attempt to verbally discipline while their parent is present (but not taking responsibility).
In January I saw a humorous test where women and men were asked to walk directly across a park, without and then with a mobile phone. They all slowed when talking on the phone and did not walk as straight a line, the women more so. In January a video clip went viral: a person was talking on a mobile phone in a large shopping mall, and walked into a sunken pool, getting wet. All definitely distracted when using mobile phones.
Bike blitz reveals car phone hazard
From the current Bicycle Victoria newsletter
21 February 2011. A two-day Police blitz focusing on bike crash black spots in the city has bagged an alarming 59 drivers illegally using mobile phones in the CBD's hectic streets.
Using a mobile phone while driving causes driver impairment equal to being drunk behind the wheel, greatly increasing the risk of collision with bike rider.
Despite heavy penalties, huge numbers of drivers seem determined to continue to phone and drive.
Have been making it my mission to teach drivers how to use the loudspeaker option on their phone.
Also enjoy tapping on peoples windows and giving them directions when they are clearly lost.
Giving directions is more succesfull and appreciated sometimes.