The New Zealand Transport Agency's quirky new texting and driving ad campaign - encouraging people to grab their mates' hands if they reach for their phones while behind the wheel - has made quite the splash here and overseas.

Now, a new study suggests that taking a positive and even humorous approach to road safety ads could be the key to reducing the number of young people who text and drive.

Queensland University of Technology researcher Cassandra Gauld said her research has so far shown light-hearted advertising messages offered an effective alternative to fear-based ads.

"Driver distraction from smartphones remains a relatively new phenomenon. We are still learning [what is effective in stopping this behaviour]."