Horrifying statistics prompt call for action over vehicle cellphone use

The use of cellphones is now a major cause of traffic accidents, and it’s time to get tough about it, says the car review website dogandlemon.com. The American National Safety Council estimates 26% of all traffic crashes involve drivers using cellphones.

New South Wales road safety officials recently declared that texting, surfing the internet or talking on the phone while driving is now one of the top five causes of fatalities on NSW roads. An estimated 5% of crashes involve texting, while 21% involve drivers talking on handheld or hands-free cellphones.

Dogandlemon.com editor Clive Matthew-Wilson – who is an active road safety campaigner – says: “Bans on handheld cellphones are failing because the authorities are using the same tired techniques, such as ad campaigns and issuing tickets. There is actually very little evidence that either of these strategies are working.”

"Multiple studies have shown that fines don't generally work as a deterrent for high risk offenders.”

“Even low risk offenders will often risk a fine rather than miss a call.”

Matthew-Wilson says scary ad campaigns are equally useless. “Let me be perfectly clear: almost every credible study ever done has concluded that road safety ads don’t work.”

Instead of fining drivers who use handheld cellphones, Matthew-Wilson believes the police should have the power to permanently seize cellphones being used by drivers while a vehicle is in motion.

“What cars and cellphones have in common is that they give their owner freedom. Take away that freedom and you give drivers a powerful incentive to modify their behavior.”

“The police already have the power to seize vehicles that are being used dangerously; why not cellphones as well?”

“We've tried everything else to deter handheld cellphone use in cars. Now lets do something that actually works.”