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MOBILE TELECOMMUNICATIONS HEALTH AND SAFETY NEWS

AMTA dial up campaign to promote safe and responsible phone use while driving


KYEOTR page‘Keep your eyes on the road’ – that’s the message from the Australian mobiles industry in a new campaign to educate drivers about how to comply with the law and reduce risks when using hands-free mobile phones.

 
Through the use of social media and a new website, KeepYourEyesOnTheRoad.org.au, AMTA CEO Chris Althaus said the industry was taking an active approach to stop the dangerous and illegal use of hand-held mobile phones on Australian roads.
 
“The risks involved with illegal mobile phone use, especially texting and driving, are a major concern for road safety authorities and the mobile phone industry,” Mr Althaus said.
 
“AMTA has taken the advice of leading researchers in this field who have said the key to changing driver behaviour is through education about the dangers of illegal mobile use and providing safer alternatives, rather than ineffective and unrealistic blanket messages advising drivers that all phone use is bad.”
 
“We need to educate drivers about using hands-free mobiles safely and when it is appropriate to use them and when it is not, depending on the traffic situation, road conditions and other factors.”
 
Although legal in every Australian State and Territory, Mr Althaus said hands-free phone use is not appropriate in all road and traffic situations.
 
“For example, we advise drivers to not accept or make calls if traffic, weather or road conditions would make it unsafe to do so and if a call becomes complex or emotional, to suspend the call.”
 
The new website spells out the various State and Territory road rules regarding mobile phones and provides drivers with advice on how to comply with the law using approved car cradles, hands-free devices and the latest smartphone technology to minimise the risk of distractions.
 
“The most effective action drivers can take to reduce risks is to place their mobiles in approved cradles affixed to the dashboard or windscreen so they are looking at the road ahead and not glancing down when making a call,” Mr Althaus said.
 
“Our advice to drivers is based on the latest real world driving research that shows taking your eyes off the road to reach for a phone, dial or read and write text messages significantly increases the risks of crashing.”
 
“We also recommend drivers use a Bluetooth hands-free device or speakerphone when driving and to use smartphone features like single-button dialling or voice-activated calling so they can keep their eyes on the road ahead.”
 
KYEOTR page 2The gold standard in driving research are naturalistic studies, pioneered by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI), which offer valuable insight into driving risks in real-world conditions using sophisticated in-car cameras as opposed to laboratory simulators.
 
The latest naturalistic study published by the VTTI earlier this year supports AMTA’s message and Australia’s nationwide ban on handheld mobile phone use behind the wheel.
 
It found the risk of a crash or near-miss among young drivers increased more than sevenfold if they were dialling or reaching for a mobile phone and fourfold if they were sending or receiving a text message.
 
The dangers associated with reaching for objects in the study highlights the importance of Australia’s mobile phone cradle law, which encourages drivers to mount their phone in a cradle affixed to the windscreen or dashboard to reduce the distraction caused by looking for their phone or using it illegally in their lap.
 
The study’s results are also in line with previous naturalistic research carried out by the VTTI that found the most dangerous distractions are those that take a drivers eyes off the forward roadway - such as texting and dialling a mobile phone – while simply talking on a mobile phone hands-free has not been shown to significantly increase crash risk.
 
For more information on this VTTI study and other news and research developments, visit the website blog.
 
You can also connect with the campaign on FacebookTwitter and Google+.

 

Published 9/04/2014

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