Transport Minister Stephen Joyce wants to ban drivers from using hand-held cellphones this year. Take the test and see why!
Joyce says he is waiting for a Ministry of Transport report on public consultation about the use of cellphones while driving.
Road safety researchers say using a cellphone while driving increases the risk of crashing by up to nine times, comparable to a drunk driver.
Drivers are likely to be allowed to hold conversations on hands-free connections, despite research at a simulator at Waikato University showing these to be little or no safer than using a hand-held phone.
Dr Samuel Charlton, Waikato University psychology professor, conducted reseasrch in 2007 where 120 participants drove a simulated version of a New Zealand state highway. One group of drivers drove conversing with a passenger, a second group drove while talking on a cellphone, another group drove while talking to a remote passenger (in an adjacent room who could see everything, but was not in the car), and the fourth control group drove by themselves, with no conversation.
Drivers using a cellphone hardly slowed for intersections, and thought roads were more difficult to drive. The caller, not able to see if hazards were approaching, continued the conversation with the driver even at dangerous times, distracting them from the task.
Charlton's research concluded talking on a cellphone slows driver reaction time to hazards, distracting the brain from the task at hand, increasing the chance of crashing by 400 percent.
So, how do you think you'd do in a simulated situation?
The UK's Department for Transport has released an online test, but beware - only 19% of participants ahve passed the test!
Give it a go here.