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Greens urge Govt to act on cell phones

20 March 2008

Greens urge Govt to act on cell phones following survey

Green Party MP Sue Kedgley says she is heartened by the results of a Research New Zealand survey showing that 85 percent of New Zealanders support making it an offence to use a mobile phone while driving.

"This shows that there is a strong consensus for this move, with the Automobile Association, the two main cell phone providers and now a large majority of the public all behind a ban on the use of hand held cell phones while driving.

"This survey result should give the Government the political courage it needs to make driving while using a hand held cell phone an offence, as I suspect one of the main reasons the government has been dragging its feet on the issue is out of fear it may lose them votes.

"Clearly, it would be a popular move, as most New Zealanders are obviously aware that texting and using a cell phone while driving, significantly increases the risk of crashing," Ms Kedgley says.

Ms Kedgley urged the Government to act quickly, in the light of the survey, as there is anecdotal evidence that more and more people are texting while driving, and posing a major risk to other drivers on the road, as well as themselves.

"It takes only a split second for a lapse in concentration to result in an accident. Fumbling around to pick up a mobile phone or text on it inevitably results in a lapse of concentration. But as there is no specific offence related to using a mobile phone while driving, it is impossible to keep track of how often mobile phones are a factor in road traffic accidents.

"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," Ms Kedgley says.


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