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Banning Cell Phones No Silver Bullet

Immediate Release

June 11

Banning Cell Phones No Silver Bullet

Banning in-car cell phone use is not a silver bullet in the battle for safer roads, says NZ Motoring Writer’s Guild president, Jacqui Madelin.

“Banning cell phone use in cars might be popular come election time,” she says, “but it avoids the issue of training drivers to make appropriate driving decisions.”

Inappropriate cell phone use is just one risky in car-distraction, “But it’s just as bad to use a hands-free. If government was serious about reducing the risk from cell phone use it’d ban all in-car use,” she says.

"As it is, banning one distraction sends the implied message that other distractions are okay: that it’s not okay to use a hand-held phone while driving, but that using a hands-free, eating, smoking or scanning the newspaper while driving are okay."

Madelin states a more effective approach long-term would be to better train drivers to make more responsible decisions, and to understand the effects of distractions. Such training is vital for young or inexperienced drivers.

“A recent headlining crash involved a 19-year-old driver who’d been drinking and texting,” she says. “Drinking and driving is reckless, as is texting while driving. This driver was obviously unable to make appropriate driving decisions, and legislation will not change an attitude like that – but education could.”

“The New Zealand Motoring Writers’ Guild is strongly supports increased driver education, particularly when risk assessment, driver attitude and responsibility are taught,” she says. “We’d feel far happier with a selective ban like this if the penalty for infringing it was a compulsory driver training course, which at least might teach participants to make better judgements about inappropriate driving behaviours.”

“The recent Waikato University frontal lobe study into young drivers and advanced decision-making skills proves the right education can work, and in a relatively short time,” she says.

“A better-educated driver will know it’s not appropriate to drink and drive or dial that call in traffic; and they’ll eat their messy burger in the take-away, not on the motorway.”


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