Admit it: you’ve made a non-hands-free phone call while driving, at least checked your emails and texts while waiting at the lights. If you have you’re not alone, with Canstar Blue research finding that 20% of Gen Y motorists admit to talking or texting behind the wheel. That’s despite the fact that it’s illegal to use a hand held phone while driving.
As a driver you need to look after not just your safety, but the lives of those around you. A distracted driver is a dangerous driver, so here are five safety tips to reduce your risk of accident and comply with the law.
Keep it cradled
Using a hand held device while driving is banned – but Bluetooth and cradles for your phone are acceptable, provided that you don’t have to hold or manipulate the phone at all. A cradle and Bluetooth or hands-free technology enable you to make and receive calls while keeping your eyes on the road at all times.
That said, having it cradled still doesn’t mean that it’s always safe to use it. If you’re negotiating heavy traffic, tight turns or less that terrific visibility, leave it alone.
Apart from being very dangerous, it’s also illegal. And really – is any message that you’re sending by text that important that it’s worth risking a life for? If you answer anything other than “no” to that question then you really shouldn’t have a mobile phone – or perhaps a driving license – at all.
Just as you (have probably been told at some point) that you shouldn’t write anything that you wouldn’t want your mother to read, you really shouldn’t text anything while driving that you wouldn’t want read to out in court. Just don’t do it.
Always keep your eyes on the road
It’s self-evident that keeping your eyes on the road is critical in reducing driving risks from mobile phone use. Talking and listening are not too dangerous on mobiles in light traffic and good driving conditions, but taking your eyes off the road to dial or answer is risky.
Use your smartphone’s features
Smartphones provide voice-activated dialling and automatic answering features to reduce the effort of making and receiving a call and allow drivers’ eyes to remain on the road at all times. You can install apps that limit a phone to calling and voice activation. Smart drivers use their handsets’ technology to reduce driving distractions.
Don’t always answer your mobile
Hands-free mobile phone use in cars is legal – but you can still reserve the right not to answer your mobile phone! It can be quite a relief in today’s 24/7 connected world!
According to the NZ Transport Agency, a recent observational study of approximately 37,000 vehicles from 52 sites located around New Zealand indicated 1.3% of drivers appeared to be making phone calls with a phone held to their ear while 2% may have been texting. That’s at a given point in time, of course. Two percent may not sound s great deal, but of 37,000 drivers it represents 740 drivers at a given point in time. It’s significant.
And really – when you stop to think about it – were any of those texts that important?
The NZ Transport Agency runs a Safer Journeys programme in New Zealand is to reduce driver distraction, which includes driver mobile phone use. Click here for more information.