Monday, 17 June 2019

Hands-free mobile driving ban unenforceable and dangerous

Driving handsfreeA recommendation to encourage organisations to ban hands-free mobile phone use while driving in an attempt to reduce the South Australian road toll is unenforceable and would lead drivers to take added risks in order to hide their phone use, according to AMTA CEO Chris Althaus.


Mr Althaus said the recommendation in a ‘thinker in residence’ report by Professor Fred Wegman was potentially dangerous and a better approach would be for organisations to encourage legal hands-free mobile phone use by installing phone cradles in fleet vehicles.


“Because of the significant role mobile phones now have in our business and personal lives the recommendation for organisations to ban hands-free mobile phone use in company vehicles would not only be unenforceable but some drivers would then take added risks in order to use mobile phones surreptitiously,” Mr Althaus said.


“The simple act of holding a phone beneath window height or on a drivers lap to avoid detection increases a drivers need to look away from the road – the very thing the new national road rules are trying to avoid by placing mobile phones in cradles on the dashboard or out of sight in a drivers pocket when using Bluetooth hands-free devices.”


“The draft National Road Safety Strategy 2011-2020 distributed for public comment last year raised the simplistic idea of promoting phone-off policies (including hands-free) in fleets, but this was not recommended in the final strategy which acknowledged while distractions are a growing concern, mobile phones are not the only source of driver distractions.”


“AMTA fully supports the future direction the strategy aims to achieve by 2020 – a focus on preventing illegal rather than legal mobile phone use while driving.”


Mr Althaus said a better solution for organisations is to fully support the new national road rules which require all drivers to place their mobiles in cradles attached to the dashboard because it gets the phone up to the eye line level with the road and it is in easy reach to minimise distractions or to use a Bluetooth hands-free device.


“As a first step, organisations should buy and install cradles and hands-free kits in company vehicles to ensure their employees follow the road rules,” Mr Althaus said.


“They then 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.”


Mt Althaus said the mobiles industry does not advocate hands-free mobile phone use in all circumstances.


“For example, do not accept or make calls if traffic, weather or road conditions would make it unsafe to do so - or - if a call becomes complex or emotional tell the person you are speaking to, you are driving and suspend the call,” Mr Althaus said.


AMTA has developed 10 mobile phone and driving safety tips adhering to these tips, drivers can make full, productive and safe use of mobile phones while enjoying the substantial public safety and personal security benefits they provide.

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