Cellphone driving deaths

January 12th, 2013 at 8:06 am by David Farrar

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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18 Responses to “Cellphone driving deaths”

  1. Andrei (2,640 comments) says:

    Gotta find something to wring our hands over in the slow news month of January.

    Reality is of course tht in rws numbers our road deaths you have to go back 50 years to the 1950s to find numbers that match and road deaths per head of population probably at the level of the 1930s or before.

    Anyway we got what big GOVERNMENT ninnies love, a new offense for the plebians to commit along with fines to fill the GOVERNMENTS coffers, all in the name of supposedly saving lives.

    But no matter how big the tentacles of big GOVERNMENT become and no matter how intrusive the laws – shit will still happen and this will provide ample new opportunities for more hand wringing and new laws and penalities

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  2. Redbaiter (8,801 comments) says:

    Jesus, this country has what 300 burglaries a day and we’re talking about driving offences?

    Old people are locked up in their homes and living in fear of invasion by rapists and thieves and we’re talking about cellphones and driving?

    The NZTA is a fascist organisation that should be disbanded. There’s no proof that its existence or that the cost of its existence has contributed in any meaningful way to reductions in road deaths.

    Its just a gang of shiney arsed bureaucrats looking out for themselves.

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  3. Dave Mann (1,218 comments) says:

    The answer was not to ban cellphone use while driving. The answer was to make it part of the driving test to reverse into a carpark space competently whilst talking on a phone.

    These figures released just show that stupid careless people will continue to be stupid and careless regardless of what laws governments invent. Meanwhile, normal people with properly developed reflexes and the common sense aren’t allowed to continue to live their lives like responsible adults.

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  4. Azeraph (604 comments) says:

    Do you guys travel the roads a lot? Driver distraction is the number one factor in near miss potential accidents, Why? I’ve seen too many near misses just about every day and it’s not from anything else other than someone playing with their phone at low speed. I wouldn’t do another campaign but just get the cops to hammer people more and put it out on the media that they are looking for phone distracted behavior and will prosecute to the fullest.

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  5. Dave Mann (1,218 comments) says:

    @Azeraph

    I regularly talk, text and email while driving as do courier drivers (filling in paperwork, scheduling deliveries etc), truckies, the cops themselves and anybody with a two-way radio fitted to their vehicle who most probably notes things down when talking at least some of the time.

    What you see every day is just people going about their lives in a normal way and if you chose to interpret this from a nannying, fear-based perspective you must be a very frightened person.

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  6. TripeWryter (716 comments) says:

    My grandson and I were nearly bowled on a pedestrian crossing by a woman in her silver BMW station-wagon. I was watching her approach and it was clear she was texting. It was only when I grabbed up grandson that her attention was distracted from her texting.

    I see couriers and tradespeople either talking or texting while they’re on the move. I’ve seen police people do it (and perhaps the police should take a look at a few of their own). I’ve followed a High Court justice down the motorway and his cellphone was at his ear all the way from the The Esplanade (Petone) to Hawkestone St in Wellington.

    It’s as if the law was passed, everyone gave a ritual nod to it, the police do a few ‘blitzes’, but it carries on.

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  7. TheContrarian (1,085 comments) says:

    @Dave Mann
    “I regularly talk, text and email while driving”

    Talking on a hands-free set, no problem (no excuse not to have a hands free set, they are cheap). But text and email while driving is fucking. You are a danger to others.

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  8. TheContrarian (1,085 comments) says:

    ^^*While driving is fucking stupid.

    (Why cannot I edit my post?)

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  9. tristanb (1,127 comments) says:

    Jesus, this country has what 300 burglaries a day and we’re talking about driving offences?

    Yep. It’s disgusting.

    The reason is that most of us drive, and most of us have cellphones – so the government benefits by turning more of us into law breakers.

    Burglary, in contrast, is committed by a minority of people and it’s already illegal – there’s no incentive for the government to increase penalties for this.

    National is turning more and more of us into “criminals” for breaking rules, without actually punishing actual criminals (those who harm others).

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  10. tempest (30 comments) says:

    The great kiwi obsession with all things road safety related is still going strong.

    So 28 people apparently (according to the NZTA) died because they might have been using a cell phone while driving. So sorry for the these people and their families, but who really cares? How many people died because they fell down some stairs, or made a bad decision hunting/tramping/fishing/doing some DIY work, or just because they ate too much fatty salty food? How many kids died due to domestic abuse last year?

    Why is it in this country that we always fret over everything driving related?

    I note yesterday that it was national news that learner licenses will now have a maximum life span before renewal. It even warranted a kiwi blog post! Why is a simple and pretty obscure administrative change by a minor govt department treated as national news? Is there nothing more important to report and talk about?

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  11. TheContrarian (1,085 comments) says:

    “without actually punishing actual criminals (those who harm others)”

    I agree that there are far greater crimes but emailing and texting while driving makes you a danger to others. It is a stupid thing to do.

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  12. Azeraph (604 comments) says:

    It will usually take an accident to wake someone up but then after the usual shock wears off the neurals for this behavior kicks back in and the accident gets deleted until it happens again, similar to a hardcore druggie getting caught over and over. It’s not until you actually give up having a phone for three months that you see it.

    We use to have what they call a Known tribal list of people we can put a name to and a have a memory profile for each one which is about 200 people but because of the advent of the net that profile list has expanded to well over a thousand to even more and since mobiles let’s you communicate at any given time, driving has become what they call a free time area where you can catch up on things you would usually do outside of the vehicle freeing you up to allocate different things for that time.

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  13. Random Punter (72 comments) says:

    Tempest: “Why is it in this country that we always fret over everything driving related?”

    Perhaps because irresponsible drivers endanger not only themselves but others as well?

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  14. Viking2 (11,467 comments) says:

    Lack of attention is the cause of many accidents. Using a cellphone (or changing radio stations or cd’s), amounts to a lack of attention. Driving, particularly in larger towns and cities requires a lot of attention, indeed almost 100% OF YOUR ATTENTION.
    Deciding to give driving less than 50% and diverting the balance to other tasks in a recipee for failure.

    Daily on the road I find that I am dodging stupid people who do stupid things, even sober and without their cellphones. It’s worse at the present time with minds being in neutral.
    Its not me I am worried about it’s the other bloody idot. And if that’s you with a cellphone than you are a fucking idiot.

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  15. liarbors a joke (1,069 comments) says:

    People are sick and tired of Government sticking their noses into our lives. Ban cellphones, ban ladders, put stupid road cones everywhere, no wonder people are starting to ignore their petty little intrusions.

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  16. pq (728 comments) says:

    Large sign on the highway, an unusual and distracting picture of driver eating burger and other interesting things within the picture;
    words on placard says ” Distraction cause accidents

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  17. bc (1,367 comments) says:

    Disagree with the education tactic on this one, DPF. People are just too attached to their phones.
    I know someone that admitted that they sleep with their cellphone under their pillow!! (probably not unusual)

    With this kind of addiction (and for many people their cellphone is a drug), the only way is to hit them where it hurts – in their wallet. And hit them hard, so that they finally get the message: Keep your cellphone off in the car or get a hands free kit for calls.

    Texting while driving is just insane, and a menace to others on the road.

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  18. Kea (12,803 comments) says:

    How about the cops set and example and stop using their radios when driving…

    This is about revenue gathering, not public safety.

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