Cell phones illegal while driving – Transport Authority wants a review

Oops, that turned out to be a bit of a backfire.

Transport authorities are re-thinking whether it’s alright to use mobile phones in cars.

A 2009 law change made it illegal to use phones behind the wheel, and police have since raked in millions of dollars in fines.

But a new transport strategy will consider whether mobile devices could actually help to make our roads safer.

The Safer Journeys Strategy is calling for a review of legislation by the end of the year to identify “unnecessary barriers” to the use of technology, including accessing road safety information safely on mobile devices in vehicles.  

The strategy aims for increased use of emerging technology to enable smart and safe choices on the road, reduce unintended errors and increase compliance.

“More people own smartphones or other mobile devices than own a new vehicle or motorcycle. In the next five years, smartphones provide the best opportunity to provide realtime safety information to road users,” the strategy report says.

“This assumes that smartphone applications can continue to access up-to-date and accurate data. It also assumes that a person can access relevant safety information legally and safely while driving, riding or walking (eg, through visual or audible alerts).

I stopped using a Navman or similar device ages ago. I now use my cellphone and apps like Waze and Google Maps.

More and more apps are coming to the fore now and many are useful in traffic situations.

Talking on the phone while holding it being illegal – that I get – but not being able to use the phone in any way is short-sighted. As the vehicle fleet improves, more and more people will be using Bluetooth anyway, and with decent mounting devices a phone would be no more distracting than the almost ubiquitous, but now defunct, Navman devices.


– NZ Herald


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  • Nige.

    It’s not hard to get a mounting kit and just put your phone in it when you get in the car, then, wallah you’re legal to use it.

    I see people just blatantly holding their phones to their ear whilst driving just like before it was illegal. It doesn’t bother me. I don’t think they are about to crash into anyone. Would be interesting to see the data though.

    • Andinz

      Driving with one hand on the wheel is common enough but I cannot get used to it myself. On the balance of probabilities, and on “good” roads there would be next to no problem. Given an emergency though I would prefer maximum steering control and I can attest to that having driven a lot on gravel roads. Sometimes (as say with tailender smashes) there is nothing you can do except rely on prior prepared-ness (eg belted-up, 2-second gap in front).

      By all means use a mounted kit and make that legal. Maybe you can do these things with a good mount: 1. do dashboard-cam movies to locate idiots that distract themselves by driving with hand-held phones 2. do checks that the driver is attentive (not asleep, not holding the phone). Given a bit of common sense I am sure that something can be worked out that does not compromise safety.
      The idea of a smart phone becoming a “black box” in the event of a calamity intrigues me.
      BTW the french word voila is what you are looking for!

  • Skydog

    Useful in traffic situations and that’s about it. There is nothing safe about an idiot text messaging whilst driving. Lets be honest, how often does someone use their phone for safety information when driving. People are more worried about facebook likes, pics and angry birds.

    • Nige.

      I use voice recognition. Keeps it short and sweet and a lot shorter than a full conversation.

  • johcar

    Allowing the use of cellphones while driving while using anything other than a phone mounted securely and accessing it via Bluetooth and preferably using voice activated controls, is a stupid idea.

    Every day on my commute, 40km each way in Auckland traffic, I see idiots holding their phones and/or texting, weaving all over the road. They are totally distracted from the important task at hand, and their cars should be confiscated and crushed.

    • Nige.

      Good point. It’s v very different in the city compared to the south island.

    • XCIA

      It should be legislated that anyone who causes nose to tail drama on the motorway resulting in the usual mayhem should have their licence cancelled until they resit a full licence program.

  • Keanne Lawrence

    This from the Safer Journeys Strategy? Tui board coming up. The single biggest cause of urban accidents is inattention or distraction. There is no pause button for traffic flow but too many smart phone users let the device control them instead of the other way around.
    Any expanded use of such devices while driving can only be considered if it is in a suitable dash holder and be covered by the regular WOF check. It also would require the PAPD app. Pot a poor driver so that a picture is sent to a central data base of phone holders registration or perhaps the users plate or perhaps phone number for automatic fines to be mailed or txt. Three strikes and there will be a knock at the door with a summons. Minimum sentence 12 months loss of licence and maximum the car is crushed.