Call to ban phones while driving

LEARNER driver Shaniya Byron has had a few terrifying moments with older friends who have used a mobile phone while driving.

She said she would agree with a blanket ban on phones, whether they be hands free or not, for all drivers.

“They don’t concentrate as much or focus as much and they can’t drive as well,” she said.

“They’re steering all over the road and it just freaks me out.” 

Orange and Cabonne road safety officer Andrea Hamilton-Vaughan said she agreed with Shaniya’s comments and would advocate for a ban on mobile phones for all drivers. 

Mrs Hamilton-Vaughan made the comments in response to a statement from Transport for NSW  which confirmed it is “looking at the evidence and considering options to address the distraction risks for P2 licence holders, as well as young drivers and riders more generally”.

In NSW, a P1 or red licence holder cannot use any mobile phone device while driving, including hands free, whereas P2 or green licence holders can use hands-free devices. 

Mrs Hamilton-Vaughan said she knew there would be many people in the community who would not agree with her, but she said mobile phones should be turned off while driving, no matter how experienced the driver.

“The evidence is apparent that all hands-free devices serve as a distraction,” she said.

“The data is still coming in from across the world, the body of evidence swells up.”

But Orange Driving School instructor Graham Kidson does not agree. 

“With the greens Ps you’ve only been driving for two years and it isn’t enough experience but an experienced driver with both hands on the wheel, I think that’s fine,” he said. 

Mr Kidson has been teaching people to drive for about seven years said young drivers should not have the phone on while in the car in order to stop temptation. 

Mrs Hamilton-Vaughan said she was appalled at seeing so many people in Orange driving around with children in the car and chatting on the phone.

Research from Australian National University associate professor of psychology Kristen Pammer, an expert in attention issues, shows the attention of about 87 per cent of people drops dramatically when they are responding to a conversation with a person not present in the room.

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