Cellphone driving ban a 'no brainer'

Texting while driving is a 'no brainer', Transport Minister Steven Joyce said today.

Mr Joyce is set to seek a rule change banning hand-held cellphone use while driving.

He is awaiting a Ministry of Transport report, expected in a couple of weeks, on public consultation, believed to show strong support for a ban.

It follows a proposal by former Transport Minister Harry Duynhoven to fine drivers $50 and impose 25 demerit points for using cellphones while driving.

However, Mr Joyce said he was still awaiting advice on penalties.

"There are already laws, of course, about driver distraction and people shouldn't be driving their cars and texting and being distracted by cellphones at the same time," he said.

"That doesn't change but I think we've got to go ahead and get this rule in place."

It was likely hands-free cellphone use would be exempted.

Cellphone use caused 96 crashes in 2007, the New Zealand Herald reported today.

However, the Automobile Association (AA) believed the true figure was higher.

AA spokesman Mike Noon told the newspaper there was little difference between hands-free and hand-held cellphones but said banning use of the latter would at least stop people looking down to make calls.

"All phone conversations are distracting, but there will be times when you do need to be contactable," he said.

"We've been using cellphones in cars for a long time, so we think it's reasonable to have a hands-free kit in your car.

"But we say calls should be kept to a minimum, and if you're in difficult driving conditions, don't answer the phone."

NZPA

source: newshub archive