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An injury prevention group has accused the Government of missing an opportunity to ban the use of cellphones while driving, and save lives.

Road safety policies announced by the Government yesterday made no mention of a ban on cellphone use in vehicles.

The Injury Prevention Network of Aotearoa New Zealand (IPNANZ) national manager Valerie Norton said evidence about the link between cellphone use and vehicle crashes was mounting.

"Recent Australian research reports that a person using a mobile phone when driving is four times more likely to have a car crash and end up in hospital.

"In New Zealand last year at least 10 people were killed and over 90 people were injured in crashes where distraction due to cellphone use was a factor.

"This is compared to two cellphone-related fatalities in 2000."

She said countries that had banned the use of cellphones while driving included the UK, France, Italy, South Africa and all states of Australia.

Ms Norton dismissed the argument that banning the use of cellphones while driving was of limited value because drivers would still be able to engage in other distracting activities.

"Vehicle crashes are caused by a large range of factors and circumstances, and it is true that we cannot protect against all of these.

"But banning the use of cellphones while driving is a relatively straight-forward thing to do that would make a big difference to our crash statistics.

"We need to take action where we can to reduce preventable injury and death."

- NZPA