A Kiwi company has developed an app that allows drivers to listen to emails at the wheel. Beweb created the free Speaking Email app after director Mike Nelson got frustrated at being unable to safely read emails on his commute from Auckland's North Shore to the city.
And though he admits drivers shouldn't have any distractions, he said banning cellphones while driving wasn't working. Rather than expecting drivers to ignore their phones, apps should be designed with a "safe-driving" mode.
Talking to passengers, hands-free calls, kids and music were just as distracting.
National manager of road policing, Superintendent Steve Greally, said anything that took a person's attention away from the road was a safety risk.
"If someone is concentrating on an email, they are not likely to be giving their full attention to driving."
Road safety group Brake's director Caroline Perry also said the content of the email could be a distraction regardless of whether the driver interacted with the device. "If a distressing email comes through that can elevate stress levels at the wheel."
The Automobile Association's motoring spokesman Dylan Thomsen was pleased the app's developers were trying to use technology to make mobile devices less distracting but the best option was still for people to pull over if they needed to use their phones.
"Tools like this are looking at reducing physical distractions, but you're taking away some of your mental focus. "
Go to the app store or www.speaking.email