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Industry has more courage then Govt on cell phones

14 March 2008

Industry has more courage then Govt on cell phone use

The Green Party is calling on the Government to stop procrastinating and make it an offence to text message or converse on a hand held mobile phone while driving.

"The Government is running out of excuses for their inaction, now that the two main cell phone companies, Vodafone and Telecom, have joined the Green Party in calling for a law change," Green Party MP Sue Kedgley says.

"I cannot understand why the Government is dragging its feet, and I am astonished that the Transport Safety Minister says the issue is not even on their work programme.

"Is the Government oblivious to the mounting and often tragic evidence that using a cell phone while driving reduces the drivers' attention, and significantly increases the risk of crashes?"

Ms Kedgley says a 2002 UK study found that drivers' reaction times were significantly slower when using a mobile phone, and that drivers engaged in a mobile phone conversation are four times as likely to crash than other drivers.

"In that study, drivers reported it was easier to drive drunk than to drive while using a phone.

"It takes a split second for a lapse in concentration to result in an accident. It must be made clear to drivers who use cell phones in this way that they are endangering the public, as well as their own safety.

"How many more New Zealanders are going to have to die before the Government has the political courage to act?" Ms Kedgley said.

Ms Kedgley pointed out that as it is not presently an offence to use a mobile phone while driving, it's impossible to keep track of how often mobile phones are a factor in road traffic accidents.


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