New partnership to tackle driver distraction

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Almost a third of Kiwi drivers (32%) said they would text/message someone while driving* – and a new partnership between road safety agencies and the private sector aims to turn that figure around.

In a bid to pave the way for safer roads and to prevent car crashes caused by phone distractions, the NZ Transport Agency has teamed up with 2degrees, Vodafone, Spark, Auckland Transport, and New Zealand Police to help tackle the problem.

The partnership aims to remind drivers about the importance of remaining safe when behind the wheel and to encourage safer choices and better behaviour when using mobile phones. A variety of thought-provoking campaigns will take place over the next 12 months to educate the public on the legal use of mobile phones in cars, what the risks are, and the best options to stay safe.

The core group will include the NZTA, Vodafone, 2degrees and Spark, while Auckland Transport and New Zealand Police will contribute to various campaigns.

“We know that it’s safest not to use a phone at all while driving. 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,” says NZTA senior manager road safety, Fabian Marsh.

“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.”

To launch the initiative, observational research will be conducted to assess real-life driving behaviours. The purpose of the study is to monitor how people are using their phones while in the car, which will determine how the working group communicates with Kiwi drivers moving forward.

The observational research will go into market in July to assess how Kiwis really behave once in the car. Recruitment is already under way for the research, which will be opt-in and remain anonymous. 

“By showcasing what people actually do in the car, we will have the insight to combat phone distraction with practical solutions. We’re looking forward to working with all of our partners to help tackle a real problem that affects New Zealand drivers every day,” Marsh says.

To support this initiative, the working group has prepared a fact sheet outlining legal mobile phone use while driving. This information provides clarity on what is classed as illegal and legal mobile phone use in a car and the best options to keep drivers safe.

More information on the legal use of mobile phones can be found at: https://www.nzta.govt.nz/safety/driving-safely/driver-distraction/driver-distraction-resources/legal-mobile-phone-use-while-driving

* Vodafone Consumer Insights research, 2020.