Mobile phone industry backs calls for more awareness of dangers of all driving distractions

The mobile phone industry backs the findings of a Victorian Parliamentary Road Safety Committee of the need for more public awareness of the dangers of non-electronic distractions while driving.

The Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association (AMTA), Chris Althaus, said the industry welcomed the findings of the Parliament of Victoria Road Safety Committee inquiry into driver distractions and offered the support of the industry to work with Government on road safety public awareness materials where mobiles are concerned.

The Committee’s report said although there had been much media focus on mobile phones use while driving, evidence showed that a range of everyday activities and events – both in-car and external – were likely to be major contributors to distraction-related crashes.

The Committee said there was a need for a greatly improved public awareness about the risks of distractions from passengers, looking at scenery, adjusting the radio, CD or air conditioning, eating, drinking and personal grooming.

Mr Althaus said: “AMTA is not questioning that mobile phone use imposes physical, visual and cognitive demands on drivers which is why the mobile telecommunications industry supports the existing ban on hand-held use and text messaging in Australia.

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

“We welcome the balanced and comprehensive report of the Road Safety Committee and the call for all driving distractions to be considered and that mobile phones should not be singled out because to do so could lull drivers into a false sense of security.

“Studies show, for instance, that changing a car stereo can be more distracting than using hands-free mobile phones.”

Mr Althaus said the mobile telecommunications industry supported the Committee’s call for a campaign to make drivers more aware of the dangers of non-electronic distractions and to highlight the “everyday” distractions faced by drivers.

“We believe the State Government should consider introducing safety materials on all distractions faced by drivers into driver education programs in Victoria,” he said.

For more information contact Randal Markey, Manager, Communications, (02) 62396555 or 0421240550