Education is the key to tackling driving distractions

Driving programs in Victoria should educate young drivers about the range of distractions faced by drivers, the peak industry body representing the mobile phone industry has told a Victorian Parliamentary inquiry into driver distractions.

The Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association (AMTA) recently told the Parliament of Victoria Road Safety Committee inquiry that there was a need to improve driver education, particularly for learner drivers, about the range of distractions they faced while driving, including mobile phones.

AMTA CEO Chris Althaus said driving distractions were a major cause of motor vehicle accidents.

“There is now a large body of research into driver distractions that shows mobile phones are one of many distractions faced by drivers. However, they are not the most common or significant of distractions faced by drivers.

“Therefore, all distractions must be considered and mobile phones should not be singled out in any recommendations made by the committee.”

Mr Althaus said most reports into driving distractions had recommended education over legislation as the key to increasing the responsible use of mobile phones by drivers.

“AMTA is not questioning that mobile phone use imposes physical, visual and cognitive demands on the driver and the mobile phone industry is not advocating the existing ban on hand-held use in Australia be changed,” he said.

“While technology can help to address physical and visual demands on mobile phone use in vehicles, education is required to remind drivers not to be distracted by mobile phones while driving and reinforce the current ban on hand-held use.

“Therefore, the most useful action governments can take is to educate drivers about the appropriate use of wireless communications products in vehicles. “All learn-to-drive programs in Australia should educate drivers about possible distractions, such as talking to passengers, noisy children, changing climate controls, radios and CDs, eating, looking at roadside incidents and using hands-free mobile phones when driving conditions are not suitable.”

Mr Althaus said AMTA strongly believed that education of drivers was the best approach along with enforcement of current bans on hand-held mobile use, including text messaging.

AMTA does not support a blanket ban on mobile use in vehicles. He said it would be impossible to enforce a total ban on mobile phones while driving and it could lead to drivers taking risks to use mobile phones while driving.

AMTA’s safety tips on driving can be found at Consumer Tips at www.amta.org.au

 

For more information contact Randal Markey, Manager, Communications, 0421 240 550