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Cell Phone Use by Drivers Bad for Pedestrians

Cell Phone Use by Drivers Bad for Pedestrians

Media statement, FRIDAY 10th NOVEMBER 2006

Cr Celia Wade-Brown, President of Living Streets Aotearoa, says "Driving while using a cellphone is not acceptable. It's worse than driving over the alcohol limit."

"It's not just the physical distraction, it's the sense of the driver being absent from the real driving situation. Trying to catch a driver's eye as a turning cyclist or pedestrian waiting at a crossing is MUCH more difficult if the driver's on the phone. " Celia, who lives in Island Bay, frequently walks or cycles around the city. She has a cellphone but always stops to phone or text.

"The study Transport Research Laboratory (UK) carried out for Direct Line insurance company, published in March 2002, showed that hands-free was almost as dangerous as hand-held. Reaction times using a hand-held were nearly 50% worse than under normal conditions. Even a hands-free phone impaired reaction times MORE than being at the legal limit of alcohol use. Social pressure is against drink-driving and must turn against phone-driving."

"It's bad enough that drivers texting or talking don't indicate or change gear appropriately because their hands are full. They are not concentrating on the road so they won't notice dangers and can't brake early enough. Given the difference in chances of survival of a pedestrian being hit at 50k rather than 30k, this is unacceptable." says the councillor and mother-of-two.

"Our children need to be safe enough on our roads to walk or cycle to school. Elderly people must feel free to walk to the shops while they can, without the risk of being bowled because someone is chatting on their mobile. A serious business matter deserves more concentration than a chat while driving and a social call should never take priority over people's lives. Using a phone in a moving car is NOT SAFE and must be banned."

ENDS

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