The O’Farrell government should consider banning all motorists under the age of 26 from using even hands-free mobile phones while driving, says a national road safety advisory group.
The National Road Safety Council also told the Staysafe parliamentary inquiry on driver distraction that the government should explore technologies that prohibit phone reception in cars to stem the ”epidemic” of calling and texting while driving.
The joint parliamentary inquiry has been tasked with exploring regulatory and technological ways to reduce the number of drivers involved in accidents because they were distracted by mobile phones, billboard advertising and other diversions, which were a factor in at least 7 per cent of all crashes in the past decade, the government says.
NSW police already have called for stricter penalties for drivers caught repeatedly using their phone, but the council went one step further at a hearing on Friday afternoon, suggesting a ban on all mobile use for less experienced drivers under the age of 26.
”It is clear that distraction has more detrimental effects on primary tasks which are less well practised,” the council said in its submission to the inquiry.
”Broader bans on all mobile phone use by novice drivers or those under 26 years old, combined with effective deterrence through enforcement and effective penalties (including loss of licence for any offence) will be useful.”
Currently only learner and provisional (P1) drivers are banned from using phones, while all other drivers are allowed to use only hand-free sets.
The standard penalty is a $265 fine and three demerit points. More than 40 per cent of P2 drivers admit to using a mobile phone while driving, a survey of 1500 Roads and Maritime Service customers has found.
“It is time the O’Farrell government started thinking outside the box and started with a targeted education campaign for younger drivers – rather than simply introducing massive fines,” said the Labor MP Walt Secord, who is on the inquiry committee.
Despite recommending the ban, the council acknowledged in its submission that enforcement was of limited effectiveness, as shown by the huge number of motorists still using mobile phones despite the current penalties.
For this reason, the council recommended investigation of phone-blocking technologies, stating ”the best method for prevention of dangerous behaviours is not education, but rather physical barriers to the behaviour”.
There are already smartphone apps available that can be used to block calls or text alerts while driving.
This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.