Eyes on the road, leave the phone alone. That’s the message from Travel Safe as they set out to remind drivers to avoid distractions to ensure their safety and the safety of other road users.
According to Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency’s Crash Analysis System data, distracted driving is a major cause of crashes on New Zealand roads, with over 24,000 crashes reported each year because of driver distraction.
Common distractions while driving include using a mobile phone, eating, drinking, smoking, personal grooming, reaching for objects, talking to passengers or adjusting a radio, music player or GPS system.
Phones are a significant distraction, as they allow four of the top five most common distracted driving activities – texting, making calls, using a GPS or navigation system, and adjusting music.
Travel Safe Team Leader Sonia Lynds says simply leaving your phone alone when behind the wheel will drastically increase the safety of you, your passengers and other road users.
“Waka Kotahi says drivers engaged in texting are 23 times more likely to be involved in a crash than those focused on the road and sending or reading a text message while driving at 90 kilometres per hour is like driving the length of a rugby field blindfolded,” says Sonia.
Senior Sergeant Wayne Hunter stresses that even a momentary distraction can have serious consequences.
"We urge all drivers to stay alert and focused on the road, as a single moment of distraction is often the initial factor in the chain of events that leads to a fatal crash.
"We want to remind drivers that the choices they make behind the wheel can have a significant impact on their safety, as well as the safety of other road users like other motorists, pedestrians, and cyclists. By staying focused and avoiding distractions, we can all help to reduce the number of crashes on our roads," says Sergeant Hunter.
There are several easy steps you can take to minimise distractions, like making sure your car’s windscreen and mirrors are clean, and adjusting mirrors, stereos, and navigation tools before you hit the road. Once you’re on your journey be sure to take regular breaks rather than eating, drinking, or smoking while driving and ask passengers to be quiet if you’re having difficulty concentrating.
NZ Transport Agency Waka Kotahi has developed an online quiz designed to help you identify risks associated with driver distraction and be better prepared to minimise these risks when driving.
For more information on driver distraction and road safety, please visit the Waka Kotahi website
This community safety message is brought to you by Travel Safe. Travel Safe is an integrated approach to sustainable road safety outcomes that covers Tauranga and the Western Bay of Plenty.