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back to article Oz road safety strategy moots mobile phone ban

An Australian road safety strategy draft released by the Standing Committee on Transport in the federal Department of Infrastructure and Transport has mooted a total ban on mobile phone use by drivers, at some indeterminate point. The proposal, seized on by the Sydney Morning Herald as “States urged to impose total ban on mobile …

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Anonymous Coward

GATSOS or mobile phone bans? Pick your poison.

The upshot of this report is that they're at least honest that mobile phone bans aren't going to do much. And 2020 is somewhere in the future, today. But, er, why propose it at all if it isn't going to help?

The main problem appears to be failure to not be an utter tosser and refrain from driving when doped up or down, drunk, or too tired to keep your eyes open. No ban or device is going to fix that. So why bother with bans for only pheripherally connected (pun? only tangentially) activities? Well, because politicians gotta be seen to _do_ _something_. I think that's a major weakness in the political system and one that causes endless grief and costs a lot. Devices to fix that, anyone?

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FAIL

OMG

PATHETIC.....

what next? qa ban on talking to passengers !!

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Flame

Sigh that old arguement...

"qa ban on talking to passengers "

Study after study has shown the two to be completly different.

1 At a junction, a passenger will oftern stop talking when you are trying to get across.

2. If you are drifting across lanes etc, a passenger will usally stop talking and point it out.

3. If you are about to hit someone, the passenger will shout out that you are just about to crash (something to do with self preseravtion apparently).

So your rant is misguided.

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Vic
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Re: that old arguement...

> At a junction, a passenger will oftern stop talking when you are trying to get across.

You've not met my missus, then?

Vic.

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Stop

"the main causes of deaths and serious injuries to Australian drivers"

If drivers kill or seriously injure themselves through their own stupidity I have very little sympathy. It's the other road users and pedestrians who may be caught up in an accident through no fault of their own who deserve consideration.

It's clear that a "slap on the wrist" fine is *NOT* enough to stop people from behaving like idiots when in control of a vehicle and since it has been clearly shown it *is* as dangerous as driving when drunk, using a mobile whilst driving should be treated in the same way as drunk driving with similar attendant penalties/ bans/ imprisonment.

(And, just to forestall a predictable response: the only time that there is a possible excuse is if you are stuck in non-moving traffic on a motorway and there's no chance to legally pull over to make a call, but even then it should be limited to the most basic of communication that you'll be late, end of conversation.)

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Grenade

Video Game Sat Nav

When I see SatNavs attached to the windscreen and bright during the night I'm convinced the driver isn't watching the road!

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Mine's built into the dashboard but

the principle is the same. I understand what you mean but I have discovered that driving with a sat nav actually helps me concentrate on the road more. Rather than constantly looking out for signs for the exit I need from the motorway or the side road I need to take I am now concentrating on following the verbal instructions I am given while looking at the road users ahead of me.

However I will agree that when the thing leads me astray due to an out of date map then it can be a little distracting trying to find a convenient moment to turn around but really that probably happens less than the old fashioned paper map based way.

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Tightened Rules?

Huh? From 1st March you will be able to legally touch a phone to dial a number if the phone is in a dash-mounted holder (previously not allowed to touch at all) and you'll be allowed to look at phone to use it as a GPS if it's in a holder (previously only a GPS could be used as a GPS). That's the opposite of "tightened".

On the other hand, it will be illegal to even look at a phone while driving* a vehicle if it has a text message displayed on it.

*driving = being in driver seat while engine is on. Even if you're in a parking spot (or, more commonly, at a red light).

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Hurrah!

Damn good idea. Do it today!

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FAIL

It's a farce.

They've forgotten the regular electronic signs that light up so bright at night they burn your retina, alerting drivers to call a 13xxxx number for traffic alerts - just in case they're stuck six hours in a jam they can't possibly get out of, and are fined if they "take short cuts" across the median strip on freeways.

Instead now, you wait till you get home at midnight to tell them all about the traffic jam you were in six friggin hours ago.

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Not in the top five, maybe...

But bad news all the same. What appears to be a decently-designed experiment conducted at the University of Utah suggests that cellphone use is as bad as a 0.08% blood-alcohol level. That goes for hands-free phones, too. It's not about the dexterity, it's about the capability.

See http://www.lps.uci.edu/SSHonors/HFES2006.pdf

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Hmmm...

Any mention about badly behaved children? Some of the most distracted people I have seen on the road are looking over their shoulder and shouting at the misbehaving rug-rats in the back.

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Agreed

the one and only time I crashed into another car, my kids were screaming, my wife was yelling at them and I was distracted.

Thankfully it was a low speed collision so no one was hurt and there was only minor damage to my car (not even a mark on the 4wd I tail ended).

We made the most of the incident to impress on the kids exactly why it was so important to be quite in a car.

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FAIL

FAIL

If they just ban mobile phones with hands free kits, and leave two-way radio's and other communication devices (including computer based ones used by the likes of taxi's, couriers et al) they will look like they don't really care about road safety and just have a vendetta against mobile phones.

If they ban all communications devices, they could easily affect taxi's, couriers, truck drivers, ambulances, fire trucks, and police and many others.

Besides, if they start banning things that might distract a driver, the logical conclusion of that is banning GPS navigation, passengers, and radio/cd players in cars too... they might as well legislate that everyone has to take public transport (assuming the driver can't be in contact with HQ and is completely walled off from the passengers), or ride motorcycles.

In any case, they'd have a tough time enforcing a ban on using mobiles with hands free kits, as it's not immediately apparent from outside a car if someone is talking on a hands free or (as I've occasionally suspected) just talking to themselves.

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Politicians have to do something

The death rate in Victoria Australia is going up and the tighter they try to control things, the worse it gets to the point where the accidents per km driven is going up. They brought in spot checks for drinking and that caused the number of people binge drinking to go up to the point were about twice as many people die from alcohol as car wrecks. They are now talking about dropping the .05 to .02 (which should double the number of binge drinkers if we look at stats from places in Europe). The interesting stat is that the number of very drunk people driving is now going up because binge drinking is going up.

We put in speed cameras and like any device, some of them are faulty. They put one on a bridge that vibrates at the right frequency so non-speeding cars appear to travel at 108 km/hr no matter what their speed and everyone knows about that speed trap so they hit their brakes with the resulting tailgating and so far the stupid drivers doing stupid things to avoid the stupid broken camera has only killed one truck driver that did right thing and didn't squash several other people.

We now have a 3% speed tolerance which I always thought would be a good experiment to see what happens when everyone follows the posted limits. It turns out that you increase your accident rate, traffic clusters to very unsafe levels and a vast majority of drivers tailgate. There is also the slight tehcnical problem that car speedometers don't work within 3% in places where a 25 deg C change in temperature is not uncommon.

I figure they could save about 10 lives a year here if they simply reverted the last decade of changes. They could save another 5 if they followed international guide lines for painting stripes.

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of course

Of course this is to be expected, with australia lobby groups calling for the internet filter (aka censorship regime) to filter out all material unsuitable for people older than 15, its quite obvious that the loonies are now in charge of Australia, I expect a ban on children in cars before this though, in my experience the distraction caused by using a hands free phone is nothing to that caused by a 4 year old sticking thier half eaten ice cream in your ear while driving 100kph along the freeway.

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Hands-Free Just as Dangerous

There have been studies showing hands-free conversations are just as bad, if not worse, than holding a handset up to your ear. I think a blanket ban would be a good thing. I also think that bringing in such a ban would be a Humphreyesque "courageous decision" and so hold out little hope in the current Australian political climate (with a minority government). See:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mobile_phones_and_driving_safety#Handsfree_device

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Stop

But what else is it just as dangerous as?

But did they study and compare all the other things that can distract a driver ?

I'm sure a more thorough study that compared it to all the acitivies that can distract a driver (eg talking on a two way radio, having screaming kids in the car, fiddling with your radio / cd player or satnav, and consuming your fast food take away) would conclude they are all just as bad, if not worse than holding a handset to your ear.

The fact is that all of these things can (and frequently do) cause accidents, but I don't hear you suggesting we should ban all those things.

This is not to say I approve of using a mobile phone whilst driving, but let's please examine all the facts rather than just jumping on the latest causa hora or cause celebre without thinking for ourselves.

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Vic
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Computer says no...

> they are all just as bad, if not worse than holding a handset to your ear.

Wikipedia[1] has a list of some trials that demonstrate that using a phone whilst driving is more hazardous than you might think - see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mobile_phones_and_driving_safety

I'm somewhat sceptical of one of the studies though, on account of the sentence "It should be noted that the data of this study was adjusted to reflect socially accepted results"...

Vic.

[1] No, I'm not citing Wikipedia as an authoritative source, just a list of studies that might be...

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Lost in translation

First they came for the mobiles and I tried to tell everyone but couldn't find a phone box...

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FAIL

Aussies: Can't play cricket and can't stop drink driving either

Looking at those stats, if you could stop the silly bastids from being drunk, not wearing seatbelts and driving off of the road into the scenery, that would tackle 34% of their fatalities.

Seems odd to target phones when quite clearly drunk people is a far bigger target.

Its not even unpolice-able because the stats show over half the accidents occur in urban environments - not like its Bruce 2000km away from the nearest police station crashing into a kangeroo whilst drunk on moonshine.

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Anonymous Coward

Ill thought out

Well, I think new cars will be pretty much be driving themselves by 2020, or at least smart enough to avoid collisions – this kind of tech is already making appearance in high end spec cars now. So it will seem s pretty silly law by then!

But other aside from that, when using a proper integrated & voice activated hands free kit, it is no more dangerous than having a conversation with somebody sat in the car with you, and safer than operating many of the cars standard functions.

In fact, thinking about it, and again assuming a proper integrated hands free kit, I’m unsure how you would distinguish between a phone conversation and just just talking back at Chris Moyles on the radio?!?

So all in all, an ill thought out proposal with no regard given to the increasing technology providing for a safer driving experience and where that is going.

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Ban stupid drivers instead

This is like the bullbar debate from 10 or so years ago... Simple fix is to simply ban stupid drivers instead.

I have been in the car with someone who thought it important enough to look at the stereo while changing CDs at 100km/hr that he wandered around on the road until I grabbed the wheel and put us back in the left lane. This is the kind of stupidity that kills people - the phone itself doesn't, nor does talking on it.

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WTF?

By the time 2020 arrives a lot of the existing problems ...

might be dead.

We've all heard of people walking into others, or lampposts, etc., well driving adds the potential of serious injury or death to these texting drivers. Often their driving careers are short-lived.

That's the good news.

Unfortunately these characters often hit others, en route to the hospital or morgue, which is a tragedy.

Automobile drivers at least have four wheels under them, but motorcyclists only have two yet these drivers frequently text and drive - and have major and minor accidents in the process.

Out here in the Far East we don't only have the mobile phone menace but we have mobile television and video players. These devices aren't only for the high-end cars but can be found in the dashboards of even modest vehicles and, even worse, are clearly within the eyesight of drivers. The TV receivers fit into the aperture meant for radio/CD players and in use the screen pops out and up. Viewers in the back seat can see the screens quite clearly.

The TV receivers don't take signals off the air but are fed with high quality, low loss signals through 3G systems. In VietNam the system is almost country wide and not one or two channels but all sorts of programming from local, in-country sources, as well as satellite channels.

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Anonymous Coward

typical

Instead of fiddling about with peripheral crap like this Australian pols, how about you spend some money on redesigning some of your utterly shit and unsafe roads instead? For a "developed" nation Australia has some shocking roads, and I'm not talking about the boonies, I'm talking major roads like the Pacific Coast Highway.

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Badgers

Would someone think about the Roos!

My mate lives in the middle of nowhere in Western Australia... he says the biggest cause of accidents are the stupid kangeroos who have no road sense at all and don't even bother to wear reflective jackets at night. They can make a right mess of your car, apparently.

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As I've suggested before

Make new driver testing much harsher, to the point where only about half as many people can even qualify for a license in the first place. Be more draconian in taking people's licenses away if they're caught being an idiot on the road. Put money into public transport and really improve it's services so that it can be used as most people's primary mode of transport. I see so many people on the roads every day that really should not be in control of a motor vehicle. Hell, some of them shouldn't even be in control of a hair dryer.

As a result, we'll have fewer but better drivers on the roads, less pollution, more available parking, much fewer accidents, less maintenance required on the roads due to less wear, and more people would do a bit more walking. Driving should not be a right that everyone can achieve, it should be a privelege that has to be earned through proving you can drive safely and sensibly.

And yes, I'm aware this might mean I could have to do without a car. So long as public transport is improved, I would be fine with that. I had to make my own way around for years without a car, both in the city and in the bush, and that was with the current poor public transport. It's not really that hard.

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