A new local study has found that almost a third of Kiwis still text and drive, despite knowing the potential dangers of distraction behind the wheel.
Chiefly conducted by Vodafone New Zealand, the study polled almost 1000 Kiwis with the aid of 2Degrees, Spark, Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency, Auckland Transport, and the NZ Police. Thirty two per cent of respondents admitted to using their phones behind the wheel.
While cars have become much safer over the last decade thanks to improvements in structural protection and technologies like autonomous emergency braking, people have also conversely become more distracted … largely thanks to the proliferation of possible distractions available on the typical smart phone.
In 2019, 353 people died on New Zealand roads. That’s a drop of 24 people compared to 2018, but still made it the fourth most deadly year of the decade at a point where cars were theoretically at their safest.
“We know that it’s safest not to use a phone at all while driving,” said Fabian Marsh, Waka Kotahi Senior Manager for Road Safety. “Unfortunately, the reality is that phone use by drivers is commonplace in New Zealand and this is a hard behaviour to shift.
“The partnership will help us to better understand driver behaviours and develop targeted initiatives aimed at raising awareness of the risks and to spread the word on the importance of driving undistracted.
“We hope that by enlisting the support and collaboration of our partners, we will be able to tap into the mindsets of Kiwis all across the country encouraging people to think twice about using their phones behind the wheel.”
“While smartphones are the digital Swiss army knives of our lives in so many ways, mobile phones can be a massive, and, sadly, too often a tragic distraction when we get behind the wheel,” added Vodafone chief executive Jason Paris.
Vodafone and the study’s supporters are now set to embark on a series of campaigns over the next 12 months designed to help further educate drivers on smart phone dangers. This will include additional observational studies, with the hopes of finding out more about how Kiwis use different apps while on the run.