Australian doctors want drivers to lose licenses for using phones while driving

Australian doctors are calling for tougher penalties for those who use mobiles while driving.

The Australian Medical Association (AMA) is targeting drivers on their provisional or learner's license, and wants licenses suspended for a year if drivers are caught.

AMA president Dr Michael Gannon said: "Mobile phones and other devices are driver distractions, and a major cause of accidents, trauma, and death.

"Good habits must be ingrained in new, inexperienced drivers. There should be zero tolerance of provisional and learner drivers who use mobile phones or electronic devices."

AA New Zealand general manager of motoring affairs Mike Noon said New Zealand should look at the issue of mobile use, but he questioned why the punishment would only apply to learner drivers.

"Using a phone while driving is a bit like closing one eye - you only see half of what's going on," he said.

"We've just had a terrible holiday road toll - we definitely need to look at cellphone use in the coming year," he said.

While holidaymakers are in the mood for new year's resolutions, he said they should make a plan not to touch their mobiles while driving.

New Zealand Police figures show that in the year to the end of June, 27,681 people were prosecuted for using a cellphone while driving, with fines totalling over $2 million.

In Australia, those driving while using a cellphone face a fine of $440 NZD, while in New Zealand the fine is $80 and 20 demerit points.

Mr Noon said the real solution is technology, for example the automatic responses to callers or texters to communicate that the owner of the mobile is driving.

The Government told Newshub it wouldn't comment on the AMA proposal today.


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