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Need for safer cell phone use - Greens

12 March 2008

Growing crash risks show need for safer cell phone use - Greens

As the link between cell phone use by motorists and crash risks continues to grow, Green Party MP Sue Kedgley is calling for the use of only hands-free-type technology while driving.

"How many more New Zealanders are going to have to die before the Government has the political courage to follow the lead set by 46 other countries?

"There is mounting evidence that texting and using a cell phone while driving increases the risk of crashes, and yet the government is procrastinating, presumably out of fear of public disapproval, on this significant cause of vehicle crashes, Ms Kedgley says.

Australia, the United Kingdom and France, were among the countries who had prohibited the use hand held cell phones while driving, and a further three had either a partial ban or strict limitations on their use.

"We don't have to ban motorists from having cell phone conversations in their cars, they will simply be asked to do it in a safer way - by using hands-free technology so both hands can be kept on the wheel.

Transport Minister' Harry Duynhoven's reasons for not changing the law were unconvincing, and seemed to be little more than a series of lame excuses and rationalisations, because the government was fearful of getting off-side with cell-phone users.

A proposed law change should be preceded by wide public education about the risks of texting and talking on the phone while driving, Ms Kedgley said.

"We have to put the interests of public health first, not populism."


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