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It’s Your Call

 You’ve probably heard the latest call to ban mobile phone use in cars – even if they are hands free. We are told that tough new laws to ban all mobile phone use in vehicles are being considered by transport ministers after a report found that even hands free devices dramatically increased the risk of crashing.

The draft, which federal and state ministers are reviewing stated:-

 “There is evidence to support bans on all mobile phone use while driving”

 A spokesperson admitted it would  be difficult for many people to stop using hands free phones, so the first stage of the strategy would be to encourage drivers of heavy vehicles, buses, taxis and government cars to stop using hands free voluntarily.

It seems that several police authorities support the ban, as Superintendent  Max Mitchell of the NSW police force commented:- “In my view it is just as dangerous as speed and drink driving.” Others contend that using a mobile phone is the equivalent of driving with a 0.08% alcohol level.

 It looks like this is an onerous step towards a total ban, so  let’s examine some of the arguments for and against.

                                                FOR A TOTAL BAN

  •   Figures suggest that even the use of hands free mobile phones cause accidents
  •   Driving is a difficult and dangerous undertaking and anything that can eradicate any distractions is worthwhile, and must be vigorously pursued. 

                          THE ARGUMENT AGAINST A TOTAL BAN 

  •             Some research refutes this argument.  The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reported last month that hand held phone bans have no effect on the frequency of car crashes.  They stated “month to month fluctuations in rates of collision causes in jurisdictions with bans didn’t change from before to after the laws were enacted” 
  • If you ban hands free you should ban kids in cars, billboard advertising, radios and chatty passengers.

  • What about CB radios in trucks and police cars – will they still have radio communication, or will they be an exception? If so, why? 
  • Some luxury cars have a phone system that is purely voice activated, so you don’t even have to touch a button or take your eyes off the road. This means that this law would, in these cases, prevent you even talking (OK that’s a bit extreme, but they have a point.)
  • It would be unpopular; many motoring organizations (including the NRMA) think it’s going too far, and newspaper surveys suggest that around two thirds of respondents wanted hands free phones, and are against any changes in the legislation. 

          Do you think is it right, will it happen?  Have your say below.

39 comments

  1. Peter says:

    Total ban is required. Inconsistant driving while using a phone is constently observed. There are enough dangers on the road without introducing another one. If we are concerned about road safety then the use of mobile phones should be banned. The only problem is that there are no police on the road to enforce a ban.

    March 23rd, 2011 at 9:27 am

  2. leslie says:

    IFEEL THAT HANDS FREE PHONES ARE NO MORE OF ADAMGER THAN TALKING TO APASSENGER THE WORST DANGE IN MY OPION IS ALL THE SPEED SIGN CHANGES WE HAVE TO PUT UP WITH

    March 23rd, 2011 at 9:28 am

  3. Tom says:

    This would have to be the most ill-thought out piece of legislation ever put forward. Sure, everything that goes on inside the car is a distraction. It is a matter of degree. Here’s my list, going from most distracting to least:
    1). Making mobile calls without hands-free
    2) Squabbling kids in the back of Mum’s taxi on the way to and from school
    3). Talking to passengers while driving. This can actually go to #1++ if the driver turns to look at the passenger sitting next to them.
    4). Conducting a hands-free mobile call
    5). Listening to talk radio (ever see how other drivers react while listening to the radio?)
    6). Listening to radio with little or no talk (e.g. ABC FM) or playing the CD or MP3.

    My point: legislate against points 2) & 3) first before you hit hands-free mobiles. Blue tooth hands-free voice actuated after-market modules are readily available and cheap, compared to the price of many mobile phones on the market, and far cheaper than the fines imposed. Let’s get better compliance on making regular mobile calls. If you’re a driver, you’ll still see widespread abuse every day.

    March 23rd, 2011 at 9:29 am

  4. Rick says:

    Hands-free mobile communication should be allowed, and a widespread education and advertising campaign mounted to demonstrate the correct way to use handsfree devices in cars. LENGTH of call should be limited and SMS etc. barred completely whilst in a moving vehicle. I increasingly see drivers texting WHILST DRIVING, which is incredibly dangerous/stupid.

    March 23rd, 2011 at 9:33 am

  5. Dean says:

    I can understand why it’s illegal to hold a phone to your ear while driving. You should have both hands on the wheel. But banning hands free phones is ridiculous. What next? A ban on talking to your passengers?

    March 23rd, 2011 at 9:34 am

  6. Lisa says:

    If you ban mobile phones completely in cars then you should also ban smoking, talking to others in the car, having the radio on, putting on make up etc cause all of these distract the driver. Hands free should stay.

    March 23rd, 2011 at 9:38 am

  7. Lee says:

    I AGREED WITH THE ARGUMENT AGAINST A TOTAL BAN, IT’S JUST TOO MUCH..

    March 23rd, 2011 at 9:42 am

  8. brad says:

    i think it is going too far. next they will ban me from talking to my passengers as this is a distraction! my phone system is voice activated and i dont need to press buttons. i need to be contactable all day when im in the car.

    March 23rd, 2011 at 9:43 am

  9. Manicbat says:

    Ban hand held phones – talking and texting while driving ARE dangerous. If you ban hands-free (bluetooth, carkit, etc.) then ban CB radios (which aren’t hands free!) and see the uproar from the trucking industry of Australia.

    March 23rd, 2011 at 9:55 am

  10. David says:

    Driving while using a mobile phone held in your hand is probabaly on of the most dangerous things you could contemplate. The results I have witnessed usually involves some form of wandering lane to lane or simply slowing down without realizing. Some truck drivers using the Sydney Newcastle freeway are prone to doing all the above. Whereas the drivers with hands free systems are noticeably more relaxed and still have their focus on the road. I have a factory system and have only just learned to use it properly.thank heavens I feel that I have much more focus. I also enjoy catching up on business colleauges and being more productive. As a truck driver in the past I remember my first in car unit in 1989
    and how much time and money this unit saved me.Not to mention the saftey aspect.

    March 23rd, 2011 at 9:57 am

  11. David says:

    can you please explain why police using radios is ok, if mobile phones aren’t.

    can someone also explain why hands free talking is more distracting that just talking to another person in the car?

    March 23rd, 2011 at 10:02 am

  12. Ron says:

    “Figures suggest that even the use of hands free mobile phones cause accidents”

    What figures?
    Where is the proof?

    More political claptrap from people who should know better.
    “Speed kills”… It is the rate at which you stops that kills you.
    Could it be that driver education is the key component that is missing?

    I have never seen an accident caused by anything other than the driver..

    Ron

    March 23rd, 2011 at 10:13 am

  13. simon says:

    Hi
    You forgot taxis as well.

    March 23rd, 2011 at 10:15 am

  14. John says:

    Why stop at hands free phones? Also ban two way radios (CB), air ground radios in aircraft, road signs, advertising billboards, flashing lights (amber, green, magenta or blue and red) on cars and oversize trucks (particularly at night), superfluous lights on trucks, etc..

    March 23rd, 2011 at 10:26 am

  15. Andrew says:

    The Police force is looking for another traffic revenue stream. Too much power is given to Australian traffic Police with their money making speed cameras, yet speed related accidents are still at the same level. Would the same law apply to Police utilising their UHF and mobile phones while driving? How will their communication centre be able to contact them with jobs if Police are unable to use communication devices? Emergency services will come to a halt also. Will these laws be introduced and Australia regress into a stone age?

    March 23rd, 2011 at 10:31 am

  16. Brian Hannan says:

    “There is evidence” … “figures suggest” – OK, let’s see it!
    It’s a bit like “speed kills” and speed being shown as a vital factor in accidents – where is the evidence – certainly speed is involved but in many cases the ROOT cause of the accident is attitude, alcohol, drugs, and the cause of the death the one-third of people not wearing seat belts.
    As a pilot, I well know that lack of speed kills – we stall. The other thing I know is that piloting involves a whole lot of radio communication – flying is a more dangerous and difficult undertaking than driving so it seems we should eliminate radio traffic and its distractions!
    This nanny state mindset is becoming prevalent. Let governments get on with macro issues – and without decrying the road toll, have a look at deaths from cigarette smoking, alcohol, etc if we need to get a perspective.

    March 23rd, 2011 at 10:41 am

  17. David says:

    I heard last week of a man in Bowral who pulled over to the side of the road and stopped his car to talk on a mobile phone and was booked because he had not turned his engine off! Is this the law? If so, it’s ridiculous.

    – Anthony Clark
    mrc645@hotmail.com

    March 23rd, 2011 at 10:58 am

  18. Mike Taylor says:

    I am a retired Ambulance Paramedic and am against hand held mobile phones. I believe hands free mobile phones should be allowed unless some one can come up with research data that proves them to be a problem.

    March 23rd, 2011 at 11:23 am

  19. David says:

    Assuming that 2/3rds of the population are against this proposal as purported; if it gets passed in legislation it’s a clearly a miscarriage of the democratic process.

    Lets just allow the same processes based on safety grounds ban cars altogether – as they are inherently dangerous. In fact, let them ban all forms of transport on the same grounds.

    While we’re at it, ban use of “phones” (esp. for internet and SMS, etc) when on foot too – that’s certainly a safety risk.

    March 23rd, 2011 at 11:30 am

  20. Howard says:

    As Peter Wherrett used to say – “Anything that gives the driver fewer distractions has got to be a good thing” ( – and he was talking about a preferrence for automatic transmission over manual!).

    We did in fact ban chatty children and the radio when driving in traffic – not impossible to do, and well worth the benefit of reduced distractions.

    HW

    March 23rd, 2011 at 11:39 am

  21. Wal Pywell says:

    Dot point 2 above is the most serious. At least with a hands-free phone, the driver is not continually swivelling his head to listen to a passenger. I have seen drivers almost turn round to speak to a back seat passenger.
    Point 3 is also valid. Using a CB or other radio is no worse than (or just as bad as) talking on a normal mobile phone. Also I do not accept the argument that police, emergency vehicle drivers are trained to “carry out their duties”.
    Many of those in power will put bans, speed limits, and even lowering the Blood-Alcohol levels, just to appear that they are serious about road safety, regardless of the arguments for or against.

    March 23rd, 2011 at 12:02 pm

  22. Ray Marsh says:

    lets have the mobile phones and ban the cars that simply solves all these peoples
    problems!! unfortunately these same people would then dream some other out- ragous gripes. we either tell these, so called educated people to do somthing constructive for mankind or bow to the inevitable and return to they our forefathers lived and find a bloody CAVE.

    March 23rd, 2011 at 12:26 pm

  23. Trevor says:

    While I suppor the ban on hand-held phones, I don’t support a ban on hands free phones.
    I believe manufacturers should be encouraged to produce voice activated phones for use with hands-free (my old Nokia did but none of the current models had that feature).
    Also encourage people not to use phones when driving (as well as putting make-up on; eating, drinking and chastising kids etc.)
    A continuing advertising campaign should be run for this purpose

    March 23rd, 2011 at 12:37 pm

  24. Susan says:

    Ban it outright! You’re never going to stop it – how many people do you see now, not hands free talking on their phones – INCLUDING P PLATERS IN SCHOOL UNIFORMS … at least if it’s banned outright, it may discourage more people from doing it.

    March 23rd, 2011 at 12:46 pm

  25. Les Rhodes says:

    I run a Mobile Pool Service business & receive calls from prospective customers all day, 90% of my calls come in while I am in the Vehicle. If I had to stop to answer, I would never get my work done.

    March 23rd, 2011 at 1:25 pm

  26. Alan Storer says:

    Hands free voice actuated OK.

    Billboards at roadside (particularly expressways, such as Kooyong) much more dangerous.

    March 23rd, 2011 at 1:57 pm

  27. Sylvia says:

    I don’t think that using a handsfree phone in the car is any different from conversing with a passenger.

    March 23rd, 2011 at 2:01 pm

  28. peter says:

    hands free is fine,
    its no different than talking your passanger,
    maybe not as bad as kids in the back seat fighting of something,

    March 23rd, 2011 at 2:06 pm

  29. Mike says:

    Any distractions in a moving vehicle may cause loss of concentration. Distractions should be managed in a safe way and preferably when the vehicle is parked in an apprpriate area.

    I have used handsfree phones in the past and found that my concentration seemed greatly diminished. I have now stopped using phones while driving. With voicemail there is really no need to answer phones while driving.

    Too many times do you see drivers using phones or texting and veering all over the road. I have even seen some drivers speeding to get to the next red light so that they can text more efficiently!

    The most efficient solution is to ban the use while driving vehicles.

    March 23rd, 2011 at 2:20 pm

  30. Reg says:

    I agree that all SMS should not be allowed in cars but with the Blue tooth system on modern cars mobile phones are a good communication and should not be banned as they are helpfull in emergencies.

    THis should not affect the driver if he uses the blue tooth system and allows full control of the vehicle other wise the next step is to bann car radios and the use of other buttons whilst driving.

    Regards

    March 23rd, 2011 at 2:23 pm

  31. Chris Jefferies says:

    Do not ban hands free

    March 23rd, 2011 at 3:53 pm

  32. Peter King says:

    Hand holding a mobile phone or microphone should be banned all together and enforced, as they are the same and pose the same risk. exemption should be given to law enforcement and emergency vehicles, provided that the driver does not hand hold the device

    To answer a phone hands free should be allowed, as it is the same as talking to your passenger when travelling, you still have both hands on the wheel where they should be.

    There is no reason what so ever for any person to pick up a phone and answer it when you consider the technology that is now available for blue tooth sets in built or remote, all of which are at an affordable price

    March 23rd, 2011 at 6:17 pm

  33. Chris says:

    Seems like a diversionary tactic to avoid the fact we ( generally) have poorly designed and badly maintained roads and inadequate public transport. Or maybe they have found a way to fine us for it and raise more revenue. This wouldn’t be so bad if they spent it to improve the roads. But they won’t.

    March 23rd, 2011 at 7:51 pm

  34. Jerry Pink says:

    If talking on a hands free device is dangerous for civilians, then it is just as dangerous for police to so too. This applies, as stated in your article, to CB radio but equally to on board speed cameras and any other device installed in a police car that takes the driver’s attention off driving.

    If pulled over by a single officer in a car for anything where an installed device has enabled the officer to do so, the civilian would be duty bound to make an immediate citizen’s arrest of the officer for dangerous driving.

    March 23rd, 2011 at 9:07 pm

  35. Alan Frost says:

    I think its going to far

    March 24th, 2011 at 9:37 am

  36. tor says:

    A ludicrous suggestion.

    Communication possibilities should be increased, not restricted.

    Everything has to be learnt, so driver education should include communicating while driving.

    March 24th, 2011 at 8:52 pm

  37. Gary says:

    Having just completed an interstate drive, in 2000km I did not see a stupid dangerous act committed by a car driver, one by a 4WD driver and six by truck drivers (four B-doubles), which included attempted overtaking on a blind bend, overtaken in a 60kmh construction zone by a truck doing at least 90 kmh and almost shunted across a railway crossing. Fatalities attributed to truckies are rising while overall road fatalities are falling. Truckies know where police are and many act like complete idiots, so banning CB radios would be a good start. Having recently travelled with a friend with a new car with a touch screen, I think it was more distracting and dangerous than using a hand-held mobile phone. I agree, anything which distracts a driver can be a danger, but based on experience, I believe hands-free mobile use in a car is well down the list.

    March 26th, 2011 at 8:53 am

  38. B Strand says:

    Great, the majority seem to be against this sort of legistlation, but what collectively will we do about, as usual probably nothing. It needs a collective effort to argue the point about these things, the pollies rely on the fact that people have an individual whinge and go no further. When will we learn that despite appearances, we elected these people to work for us. We have to let them know that we collectively reject these money grabbing ideas and then perhaps we can start getting sensible about road safety in this country.

    March 26th, 2011 at 12:23 pm

  39. Paul says:

    If they are going to ban hands free mobile conversations in a vehicle then they also need to ban two way radio communications in vehicles. I drive for a company that uses radio communications for all of its drivers and I find that the conversations that are carried out on this two-way to be more of a distraction that just talking to one person in a phone conversation. I was also a Police Officer and the Police radio was a constant distraction also. Also in the course of my employment I am required to read worksheets and be constantly checking times and location in my employment which also causes a great distraction. There are a lot of other things that need to be worried about for road safety before conversations on a hands free phone.
    If roads were better constructed in this country there would be less risk than there is now. At present it appears that Governments build roads to kill people rather than save them then shift the blame for incompetence on the drivers of motor vehicles trying to blame them for all the problems on the road.

    March 31st, 2011 at 12:41 am