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Cellphone Ban An 'Utter Failure' – Expert

Cellphone Ban An 'Utter Failure' – Expert

The government’s cellphone ban for drivers has been an utter failure, says the car review website dogandlemon.com.
Dogandlemon.com editor Clive Matthew-Wilson – who is an active road safety campaigner – says:

“Ticketing and fines are not changing driver behaviour. Immediate cellphone confiscation by police would hit cellphone users where it hurts. For many people, cellphones are now their primary means of communication. The loss of their cellphone, with all its contacts, would be devastating to most cellphone users, and a powerful motivation to change behaviour.”

In the year to November, 2011, 10,070 drivers were caught using cellphones. Last year, this figure rose to 12,973.

In the year to March, 2012, 149 crashes were thought to have been at least partly caused by mobile use. Since 2007, 28 people have died on New Zealand roads in accidents caused by drivers using cellphones .

Matthew-Wilson adds:

“The cellphone ban is failing because the authorities are using the same tired techniques, such as ad campaigns and issuing tickets. There is actually very little evidence that either of these strategies work.” *

Instead of fining drivers who use handheld cellphones, Matthew-Wilson believes the police should have the power to temporarily seize cellphones being used by drivers while a vehicle is in motion.

Under Matthew-Wilson’s proposal, every police car would carry a pre-printed receipt book and a few pre-paid padded courier envelopes. Instead of issuing a ticket, the officer would instruct the offending driver to write his or her address onto the envelope. The officer would then place the cellphone into the envelope, seal it and arrange for a courier to pick up the envelope from the local police station. The offender would get his/her cellphone back by courier in a few days.
The officer would also note the offender’s details, and after two offences the cellphone would be permanently seized.

Matthew-Wilson says that fines don't generally work because many users are prepared to risk a fine rather than miss a call. However, says Matthew-Wilson, most cellphone users would hate to lose their cellphone – even temporarily – and this fear would eventually modify their behavior.

“What cars and cellphones have in common is that they give the owner freedom. Take away that freedom and you give drivers a powerful incentive to modify their behavior.”

* In a study of 30 years of road safety advertisements, the giant American road safety research organization IIHS concluded: “Research indicates that education has no effect, or only a very limited effect, on habits like staying within speed limits, heeding stop signs, and using safety belts.”

* Most major studies have showed that fines and license disqualification don’t deter the highest risk groups on the road.


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