Time to reassess phones in cars

With technology become more sophisticated, it might be time to change the rules on using phones in cars. Photo / iStock
With technology become more sophisticated, it might be time to change the rules on using phones in cars. Photo / iStock

Transport authorities are re-thinking whether it's alright to use mobile phones in cars.

A 2009 law change made it illegal to use phones behind the wheel, and police have since raked in millions of dollars in fines.

But a new transport strategy will consider whether mobile devices could actually help to make our roads safer.

The Safer Journeys Strategy is calling for a review of legislation by the end of the year to identify "unnecessary barriers" to the use of technology, including accessing road safety information safely on mobile devices in vehicles.

The strategy aims for increased use of emerging technology to enable smart and safe choices on the road, reduce unintended errors and increase compliance.

"More people own smartphones or other mobile devices than own a new vehicle or motorcycle. In the next five years, smartphones provide the best opportunity to provide realtime

safety information to road users," the strategy report says.

"This assumes that smartphone applications can continue to access up-to-date and accurate data. It also assumes that a person can access relevant safety information legally and safely while driving, riding or walking (eg, through visual or audible alerts).

"A key component in how the action is implemented will be to develop partnerships and cooperative relationships with the private sector. The supporting actions will encourage the support of the motor vehicle industry to import technology enhanced/enabled vehicles, and to take responsibility to improve awareness of road safety features through sales and promotion."

The report said solutions may need to be geared to different road users -- such as older drivers, young drivers, visiting drivers, and commercial drivers.

The strategy will look at all modes of travel, including driving, motorcycling, cycling and walking.

The Safer Journeys strategy was developed by the National Road Safety Committee, which is made up of police, the Ministry of Transport, the Transport Agency and ACC.

It signals a potential shift away from the ban on mobile phones, which aimed to reduce accidents caused by distracted driving.

A Ministry of Transport review found that diverted attention was a factor in 11 per cent of all casualty crashes between 2012 to 2014.

It contributed to 8 per cent of fatal crashes, 9 per cent of serious injury crashes and 12 per cent of minor injury crashes. Many were on the open roads.

Last year, police issued $2.1 million worth of tickets for using phones while driving,

NZH

- NZ Herald

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter

SIGN UP NOW

© Copyright 2016, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production apcf04 at 10 Dec 2016 04:41:39 Processing Time: 1065ms