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AA supports a ban on texting and driving

AA supports a ban on texting and driving


By Aidan Deam

The Automobile Association supports a ban on texting and driving, saying that the practice can lead to a lack of concentration and can cause accidents.

According to a recent survey of 2500 drivers in February, 77 per cent support the ban, despite the fact that 40 per cent had talked on their phones without a hands free kit.

This is especially significant given that there are no laws prohibiting texting or talking on a mobile phone while driving, despite police saying that both these factors are contributors to car crashes.

Land Transport New Zealand figures released in January show that since 1995 mobile phone distraction has contributed to 446 crashes and 34 deaths on New Zealand roads.

Sergeant Keith Olsen, community services supervisor , from the Howick Police says he has attended many accidents where phones have contributed to the crash.

He says though there is no law against texting and driving, if it distracts drivers they can be charged with careless driving.

“It’s common, alarmingly common. It’s a problem across the board, but more likely in the younger generation,” he says.

The AA survey says that two-thirds of young adults admit to looking away from the road in order to text at the same time.

AUT student Liselle Finlay is one of the many who says this is common practice.

“It’s tempting to do it, a couple of seconds typing and you’re done, you barely need to think about it,” she says.

Many of the younger generation say much the same thing, that it is an automatic response and there is no need to look away from the wheel in order to send a text.

Sergeant Olsen also says that it is only a problem if the phone is distracting the driver, causing erratic driving and inattention to the road.

“If someone is stopped at a red light using a phone and puts it down when it turns green, then it’s not going to cause an incident,” he says.

However, he says the best thing to do if a phone rings is to either pull over and answer or simply ignore it, “if it’s important, they will leave you a message.”

Major phone manufacturer Telecom also agrees with the Automobile Association, a message on their website advises customers to never text, email, or take photos while driving a vehicle.

It goes on to say that it is the responsibility of every driver to prioritise their safety when on the road.

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Aidan Deam is a Journalism Student at AUT

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