Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | News Video | Crime | Employers | Housing | Immigration | Legal | Local Govt. | Maori | Welfare | Unions | Youth | Search

 


Phone ban will have little impact on accident rate


Cell phone ban will have little impact on accident rates.

Jim Peron - executive director of the Institute for Liberal Values

Transport Minister Peter Hodgson, in the nanny tone that is typical of this government, recently said that the government is going to regulate cell phone use while driving. 'That action is coming' he promised.

The idea behind the ban is a simple one. Drivers with cell phones may get distracted. They may have an accident.

True enough. Mothers driving with small children may get distracted. They too may have accidents. No one has yet come up with the idea of banning children.

Driver distractions can cause accidents. No one questions that. But road policy ought not be based on the premise of a zero accident rate.

If you limit driving to 5 kilometres an hour and require drivers to be outfitted like stuntmen you may actually get close to an absolute safety rate. But no one would stand still for it.

Most of us recognise that life is a system of trade offs. We tolerate elevated levels of risk to avoid driving at 5 kph. We measure risks and do our best to draw a rational conclusion.

Most car accidents are not caused by driver distractions. And those that are have many causes.

Consider all the possible distractions that a driver can have. These can include animals running in front of the car, changing radio stations, lighting a cigarette, quieting the children, changing a tape or CD, or arguing with one¹s spouse. The possibilities are almost endless. Surely we aren¹t going to attempt to ban them all.

So where do cell phones fall on the scale of distractions?

The Highway Safety Research Centre at the University of North Carolina studied 32,000 traffic accidents caused by driver distractions. The number one distraction was outside objects, persons or events. They were responsible for 29.4% of the accidents.

The driver has no control over such things. It would be a bit unfair to compare cell phone usage‹which they do control‹to these events.

On the other hand drivers do control the radio or CD player and tinkering with them are were responsible for 11.4% of ³distraction² accidents.

The government likes to encourage people to car pool to work. But being distracted by another passenger was responsible for 10.9% of the accidents.

Now and then drivers try to move objects within the car from one spot to another. That action was responsible for 4.3% of the accidents.

Adjusting the temperature by using heating or air conditioning was responsible for 2.8% of the accidents and eating or drinking while driving was responsible for 1.7% of the accidents.

Every one these activities caused more accidents than using a cell phone in the car. The Minister could reduce the accident much more by merely banning radios, CD players, or passengers.

More accidents are caused by eating and drinking while driving yet we actually have drive through restaurants and the Minister is doing nothing to save us from this vile danger!

If the percentages from this study even come close to what is happening in New Zealand think what it means. Only a minority of accidents are caused by driver distractions. Of those less than 2% are caused by cell phone usage. That¹s not a very significant number.

According to the Land Transport Safety Authority cell phone usage caused 45 accidents in 2002, the last year for which statistics are available.

By checking the Annual Statistic for 2002 I see that there were 9,798 accidents that year. Even if the LTSA is correct we¹d have to conclude that cell phone use was responsible for less than half of one percent of all accidents.

It may sound frivolous but cutting our links with the monarchy is likely to reduce accidents more than banning cell phone use.

The Queen¹s Birthday is a holiday and just having a holiday escalates accident rates. We average around 26 accidents per day in New Zealand. Yet on the Queen¹s Birthday that rate triples or quadruples. But all holidays have that effect.

Just going on vacation increases your chances of having an accident. Witness the unfortunate, recent death of historian Michael King while was returning home from a holiday. Yet Labour is actually increasing holiday times for New Zealand workers.

Just four holidays per year are responsible for around 550 accidents. That¹s 12 time the number of accidents attributed to cell phones for the entire year! But what Minister wants to be the Grinch that banned Christmas regardless of how many lives it might save?

I don¹t want to trivialise the fact that accidents happen and people get hurt. In some cases they get killed. But it seems to me that banning cell phone use while driving will have almost no impact on lowering those rates.


© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

 

Also, Loan Interest: Productivity Commission On Tertiary Education

Key recommendations include better quality control; making it easier for students to transfer between courses; abolishing University Entrance; enabling tertiary institutions to own and control their assets; making it easier for new providers to enter the system; and facilitating more and faster innovation by tertiary education providers... More>>

ALSO:

Higher Payments: Wellington Regional Council Becomes A Living Wage Employer

Councillor Sue Kedgley said she was delighted that the Wellington Regional Council unanimously adopted her motion to become a Living Wage employer, making it the first regional council in New Zealand to do so. More>>

ALSO:

Scoop Images:
Dame Patsy Reddy Sworn In As Governor-General

This morning Dame Patsy Reddy was sworn in as the New Zealand Realm’s 21st Governor-General. The ceremony began with a pōwhiri to welcome Dame Patsy and her husband Sir David Gascoigne to Parliament. More>>

ALSO:

Ruataniwha: DOC, Hawke's Bay Council Developer Take Supreme Court Appeal

The Department of Conservation and Hawke's Bay Regional Investment Company (HBRIC) are appealing to the Supreme Court over a conservation land swap which the Court of Appeal halted. More>>

ALSO:

With NZ's Marama Davidson: Women’s Flotilla Leaves Sicily – Heading For Gaza

Women representing 13 countries spanning five continents began their journey yesterday on Zaytouna-Oliva to the shores of Gaza, which has been under blockade since 2007. On board are a Nobel Peace Laureate, three parliamentarians, a decorated US diplomat, journalists, an Olympic athlete, and a physician. A list of the women with their background can be found here. More>>

Gordon Campbell: On The Key Style Of Crisis Management

At Monday’s post Cabinet press conference Key was in his finest wide- eyed “Problem? What problem?” mode. No, there wasn’t really a problem that top MPI officials had been at odds with each other over the meaning of the fisheries policy and how that policy should be pursued... More>>

ALSO:

Mt Roskill: Greens Will Not Stand In Likely Post-Goff By-Election

“The Green Party’s priority is changing the Government in 2017, and as part of that we’ve decided that we won’t stand a candidate in the probable Mt Roskill by-election... This decision shows the Memorandum of Understanding between Labour and the Green Party is working." More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 

LATEST HEADLINES

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Politics
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news