Study finds that 1 in 3 Kiwis admit to using their cellphone while driving

goss 02/07/2020

Almost one-third of New Zealanders have used their phones while driving, according to a new study which is concerning police and transport agencies.

Vodafone conducted the consumer insights research earlier this year as part of a new initiative to tackle the issue.

The study found 32 percent of respondents had text/messaged someone while behind the wheel.

"Driving while distracted, especially using a cell phone, is one of the four main behaviours contributing to death and injury on our roads and all drivers need to start taking this more seriously," police national road policing manager Gini Welch says.

"When you are driving, things can change in a split second, so driver focus always needs to be on the road, and distraction-free."

She said in 2019 there were almost 100 road deaths and injuries as a result of driver distraction due to mobile phone use.

Vodafone and the police are partnering with Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency, 2degrees, Spark, and Auckland Transport to create various campaigns over the next 12 months.

They will focus on educating the public on the proper use of mobile phones in cars including legalities, risks involved and the best options to stay safe.

Waka Kotahi senior manager road safety Fabian Marsh says they hope the campaign will reduce the number of Kiwis using their phones at the wheel, and hopefully result in less crashes on New Zealand roads.

"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," Marsh says.

"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."

The initiative will now be conducting observational research to gain an understanding of real-life driving behaviours.

Kiwis will be able to opt-in to the research and remain anonymous