Safety is the most important call drivers can make

The Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association (AMTA) welcomes the certainty that has been restored over the use of legal hands-free mobile phones by drivers in South Australia and reminds drivers using a hands-free is not a guarantee of safety on the roads.

AMTA Chief Executive Officer, Chris Althaus, said the mobile telecommunications industry was pleased drivers in South Australia doing the right thing by using a hands-free mobile phone would no longer be penalised following the clarification of the issue by the State Government.

AMTA is the peak industry body representing the mobile telecommunications industry in Australia. It members include: Telstra Optus Vodafone Hutchison Telecoms Virgin Mobile AAPT Nokia Motorola Samsung LG Ericsson Sony Ericsson Alcatel-Lucent.

Mr Althaus said: “Although we welcome the clarification in South Australia and the ending of confusion for drivers in that State, we remind all drivers that using a legal hands-free mobile phone while driving is not appropriate in all driving circumstances.

“We stress that although a hands-free device can reduce the physical effort to make and receive calls, drivers should avoid making calls in adverse traffic, road or weather conditions and avoid complex or emotional conversations. Safety is the most important call drivers can make.

“While technology can address physical and visual factors, education and awareness is required to address cognitive factors. Therefore, the most useful action governments can take is to help educate drivers about the appropriate use of mobile telecommunications products in vehicles.

“AMTA has urged governments to take the ‘education’ path on all driving distractions and has offered to partner governments in such a campaign.”

AMTA’s driving safety tips are widely used by fleet owners and motoring organisations and can be viewed under consumer tips at www.amta.org.au

Mr Althaus said mobile phones are only one of the many distractions faced by drivers and all potential distractions must be considered.

An American Automobile Association study analysed more than 32,000 traffic accidents caused by various driver distractions and found drivers were most often distracted by something outside their vehicle (29.4 percent), followed by adjusting a radio or CD player (11.4 percent), talking with other occupants (10.9 percent), adjusting vehicle or climate controls (2.8 percent), eating or drinking (1.7 percent), mobile phones (1.5 percent) and smoking (0.9 percent).

Recent Australian research, conducted by Monash University’s Accident Research Centre (MUARC), also found the effects of distraction were more pronounced during car stereo tasks than during hands-free mobile phone tasks.

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

Mobile Phones and Driving Safety Tips

1. Never Use a Hand-Held Mobile: 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. When using a portable hands free device make sure it is set up and working before you start to drive. A hands free device can reduce the physical effort to make and receive calls, however, it alone doesn’t make using a mobile phone while driving safe.

2. Never Read or Send SMS, Take Notes, Look Up Phone Numbers: Always keep both eyes on the road and do not read or send SMS text messages or take notes during a call while driving. If required, use a directory assistance service which connects you directly to the number and don’t look up phone numbers from your phone’s memory.

3. Don’t Call in Heavy Traffic or Weather Conditions: Don’t accept or make calls if traffic and weather conditions would make it unsafe to do so. Also, always tell the person you are speaking to that you’re driving and that you may have to end the call if driving conditions change.

4. Don’t Engage in Complex or Emotional Conversations: If a call becomes complex or emotional tell the person you are speaking to, you are driving and suspend the call. Complex and emotive conversations on a mobile phone, or with other passengers, and driving don’t mix – they are distracting and can be dangerous.

5. Use Message Services to Answer Calls: 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.

6. Pull Over Safely if You Stop to Make a Call: If you choose to stop to answer or make a call or retrieve a message, pull over carefully in a safe area. Don’t stop where you could be a hazard to other vehicles, pedestrians or yourself.

7. Use Your Phone’s Features to Reduce the Effort to Make a Call: Carefully read your phone’s instruction manual and learn to use the speed dial and redial features of your phone. Also, if possible, use a phone with voice activated dialing and automatic answering features to reduce the effort to make and receive a call.

8. Plan Your Trip and Make Calls When Stationary: Whenever possible plan your trip and try to make calls when stationary or during rest breaks in long trips.

9. Tell callers you’re driving while on the phone: Always let the person you’re speaking to know that you are driving. This lets them know that you may not always respond immediately and reminds you that driving safely is your first priority. “Hello, I’m in the car at the moment…”

10. In Emergencies Use Your Phone to Call for Help: Dial '000' or '112' in case of fire, traffic accident, road hazard or medical emergency. Both '000' and '112' are free calls, and will connect you to emergency services. Almost one third of all genuine calls to ‘000’ are made from mobile phones.

Disclaimer

The "Mobile Phones and Driving - Safety Tips" page of AMTA's website is to assist mobile phone users with general information regarding the use of mobile phones while driving. Users of the "Mobile Phones and Driving - Safety Tips" page are required to comply with all State, Territory and Federal laws and rules covering the use of motor vehicles, including the use of mobile phones while driving. These safety tips should be read in conjunction with those laws and rules and do not replace or modify those laws or rules.

Circumstances may also exist where use of a mobile phone is unsafe. Users must use their own judgement and these safety tips do not suggest that the use of a mobile phone while driving is necessarily appropriate.

Users of this website must make their own enquiries and where necessary obtain specific advice in relation to any of the activities referred to in the "Mobile Phones and Driving - Safety Tips" page.

AMTA accepts no responsibility for the consequences of any decisions that users may make as a result of any information they have gained from the "Mobile Phones and Driving - Safety Tips" page."