‘Safety is the most important call you will make’

 

Over the Australia Day weekend ‘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 Australia Day weekend.

"If you are planning to drive on the long weekend 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.

"Recent figures show 47 percent of all ‘000’ emergency calls made in 2002 were from a mobile phone. Having a mobile phone while on the road is a major benefit, not just for convenience, but in times of emergency.

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

Media enquiries: Kelly Parkinson on 03 9685 7515 or 0419 521 059

 

Mobile Phones and Driving - Safety Tips

Safety is Your Most Important Call

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 these ten simple steps.

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 are 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 dialling 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. 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. If you are in a poor signal area, dial '112' - this will connect using the carrier with the best coverage in the area. If the phone does not have a SIM installed, you can still dial '112' to connect to emergency services.

10. Use Your Phone to Help Others in Emergencies: If you see a traffic accident, crime in progress or other serious emergency where others lives are in danger call ‘000’ or ‘112’. One third of all calls to ‘000’ are made from mobile phones.