Over the Christmas Break ‘Safety is the most important call you will make’

The Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association (AMTA) today called on motorists to use mobile phones safely when driving over the Christmas holidays.

“If you are planning to drive over the Christmas period and you need to call somebody, try to make your calls before you leave or during rest breaks in long trips,” AMTA CEO, Graham Chalker, said.

“When using a mobile phone while driving, safety is the most important call you will make. All drivers can make safety their first priority by following some simple common sense practices,” he said.

In Australia it is illegal to use a mobile phone while driving unless you use a hands free in-car-kit or portable hands free device.

“A hands free device can reduce the physical effort to make and receive calls; however, drivers should also avoid making calls in heavy traffic or weather conditions and should not engage in complex or emotional conversations,” Mr Chalker said

“If a call is unnecessary or you consider it unsafe to answer at the time, don’t answer the call and let it divert to voicemail or an answering service.

“Drivers should never take notes, look up phone numbers nor read or send text messages.

“Drivers should also plan ahead and make calls when stationary or during rest breaks in long trips. Drivers can also use a phone with voice activated dialling and automatic answering features to reduce the effort to make and receive a call.

“By adhering to these simple common sense practices, drivers can make full, productive and safe use of mobile phones while enjoying the substantial public safety and personal security benefits they provide,” he said.

However, he stressed that the concern over mobile phone use while driving needs to be put in perspective, because mobile phones are only one of many distractions which drivers have to deal with.

A recent American Automobile Association study analysed more than 32,000 traffic accidents caused by various driver distractions and found mobile phones contributed to less than two percent of accidents, while an outside object, person or event contributed to more than 29 percent and adjusting the radio or CD contributed to more than 11 percent of accidents.

Mr Chalker also said mobile phones are a significant benefit on the road for emergency situations.

For mobile phone and driving safety tips see next page or www.amta.org.au