Growing concerns over phone use behind the wheel have led to a campaign to encourage drivers to leave the phone alone.
Vodafone and the Automobile Association have enlisted the talents of popular Kiwi personalities, How to DAD and The Cougar Boys, to get the message out.
Studies in New Zealand have indicated about three percent of the drivers travelling on the road at any time will be illegally using a phone to either talk, message or go online.
Drivers being distracted or not paying attention is one of the most common factors involved in crashes, and technology-related driver distraction specifically has become a major road safety risk.
“We have far, far too many drivers using their phone behind the wheel and it is killing and injuring people,” says AA road safety spokesperson Dylan Thomsen.
“People know it is against the law, but the problem is they do not see it as risky.”
“The AA has advised our road toll is going up even though vehicles and roads are getting safer, which is an alarming trend,” says Vodafone health, safety and wellbeing manager, Max Riley.
“And, they have said technology-related driver distraction has a role to play in that. So, we reached out to them to see what we can do together to help raise awareness.
“We want people to use technology to stay connected and enrich their lives, and we want them to do it safely. If your smart phone has a do not disturb while driving mode, switch it on.
“This will block all texts, notifications and calls, and let your contacts know you’ll be back in touch when you reach your destination. As the NZTA as advised, it takes two seconds and could save your life.”
“Enforcement is not going to be able to solve this problem on its own. We need drivers to think more about the choices they make around using phones when they are on the road,” says Dylan.
“The AA hopes the How to DAD and Cougar Boys videos will convince any driver who does sometimes use their phone to make the choice to leave the phone alone.
“Using humour and social media personalities is great way to deliver the message but, at the same time, this is a deadly serious issue. Every year we have people losing children, partners, family and friends because a driver was on their phone. That is heartbreaking and the power to change it is literally in people’s own hands.
“It is such a simple ask – leave the phone alone when you’re driving, and switch the do not disturb while driving function on – the AA is right behind this campaign to get more Kiwis making that choice.”