Safety is the most important call you can make this Christmas

AMTA backed Deputy Prime Minister John Anderson's message for people to use mobiles safely when driving this Christmas.

The CEO of the Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association (AMTA), Graham Chalker, said: “A hands-free device can reduce the physical effort to make and receive calls. However, drivers should avoid making calls in heavy traffic or bad weather conditions and they should not engage in distracting complex or emotional conversations.”

It is illegal to use a mobile phone while driving unless you use a hands-free kit or portable hands-free device.

AMTA backs Deputy Prime Minister John Anderson’s call for measures to cut the road toll, particularly among young Australians, and his message for people to use mobiles safely when driving this Christmas.

Mr 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 overseas studies show that in accidents caused by distraction, mobile phones contributed to fewer than 2 per cent compared to an outside object, person or event, which contributed to 29 per cent. Adjusting the radio or CD contributed to more than 11 per cent of accidents caused by distraction.

Mr Chalker said: “Mobiles are not the most common or significant distraction faced by drivers". Drivers need to be aware of all possible distractions such as talking to passengers, looking at roadside incidents, noisy children, eating, reading maps, changing climate controls or radios and using mobile phones.

“Singling out mobiles for unsafe driving can be misleading and lull people into a false sense of security. We agree that mobiles can be one distraction too many, but drivers need to be aware of the full range of distractions facing drivers.”

Mr Chalker warned that using a hand-free mobile device while driving was not on its own a guarantee of safety under certain conditions.

“If a call is unnecessary or you consider it unsafe to answer at the time, do not answer the call and let it divert to voicemail or an answering service,” he said.

“Drivers should plan ahead and make calls when stationary or during rest breaks on long trips. Drivers can also use a phone with voice activated dialling and automatic answering features to reduce the effort required to make and receive calls on a hands-free device.”


Safety is Your Most Important Call: Mobile Phones and Driving Safety Tips

1. Always Use Hands Free: 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. 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.


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. Never Take Notes, Look Up Phone Numbers, Read or Send SMS: Always keep both eyes on the road and never take notes during a call. Don’t read or send text messages or SMS (Short Messaging Service) 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.


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.