Cellphone driving deaths

Tom Hunt at Stuff reports:

Three years into a ban on drivers using handheld cellphones, the number of those caught keeps rising – as does the body count.

Police figures show 28 people have died on New Zealand roads in accidents caused by people using cellphones since 2007.

Annoyingly the story doesn’t give us data capable of backing up the assertion. The ban has been in place for three years and we are told there have been 28 deaths in the last five years. What would be useful is the annual number of deaths for the three years since and the three years before.

The NZ Transport Agency has confirmed it is planning a new campaign specifically targeting driver distraction, with a focus on cellphones.

I always thought educational campaigns were more likely to be effective than a law change targeting just one type of driver distraction.

Road policing national manager Superintendent Carey Griffiths said the rise of smartphones, with which people could check social media and emails, as well as answering text messages and calls, was adding to the problem.

“There is the opportunity for more and more distraction as we are getting more and more wired.”

Figures show in the year to November, 2011, 10,070 drivers were caught.

In the year to last November the figure rose to 12,973.

Mr Griffiths said the number of people caught could be due to more people flouting the law or police keeping a keener eye on it.

Just as one has airline mode for phones, maybe there should be a car mode also that turns off all the alerts but still allows phone calls (which you can do handsfreee)?

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