NSW Government urged to consider all driver distractions

The New South Wales government has been urged to consider the full range of distractions faced by young drivers and not single out mobile phones, the Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association (AMTA), Chris Althaus, said today.

He was commenting on newspaper reports that the State Government in NSW is to ban P-plate drivers from using mobile phones while driving.

Mr Althaus said research had shown that mobile phones were not the most common or significant of a range of distractions faced by drivers.

“Research shows that drivers are more distracted by other passengers, car stereo and in-car entertainment systems, MP3 players, such as ipods, and eating and drinking while driving,” he said.

“Research from Monash University shows that distraction was more pronounced during car stereo tasks than using hands-free mobile phones.”

Mr Althaus said the mobile telecommunications industry supported the overall concept that inexperienced drivers needed to focus on the primary task of driving safely before engaging in any secondary task.

“Young drivers need to be educated about the best practices of managing secondary tasks including mobile phone use while driving,” he said.

“We believe education is the key and not legislation. Probationary drivers have to contend with the array of everyday distractions faced by all drivers and they need to be educated about the significant risks of all distractions.”

Mr Althaus said the industry had offered to assist governments in helping to introduce safety materials on distractions into driver education programs.

“We would be concerned about two aspects of the proposed ban on P-plate drivers in NSW. First, it would be very difficult to enforce. Secondly, the proposed ban may lead to young drivers increasing the use of other dangerous and illegal behaviours such as text messaging, which they are already more inclined to do, in order to avoid detection from police.”

By adhering to existing laws and commonsense practices, young drivers can make safe use of hands-free mobile phones.

AMTA promotes safe driving tips and strongly supports the ban on hand-held mobile phone use as well as suggesting many commonsense tips on safe use of hands-free mobiles. See Consumer Tips at www.amta.org.au

AMTA is the peak national body representing Australia’s mobile phone industry. It aims to promote an environmentally, socially and economically responsible and successful mobile telecommunications industry in Australia.

For more information contact Randal Markey, Communications Manager, (02) 6239 6555 or 0421 240 550