NSW Government Urged To Ban Mobile Use By Drivers Under 26

There's no question that texting while driving is stupid. You shouldn't do it. One interest group though is taking things a little too far, saying that anyone under the age of 26 should be banned from using a mobile phone for anything when they drive.

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, a NSW government inquiry into reducing distractions while driving has been urged to implement the ban for "novice drivers".

The National Road Safety Council is the group behind the call, and said in its submission that the ban should be implemented along with tough fines from Police for those caught offending. The council has admitted though that law enforcement by police in this instance would be of "limited effectiveness". That gives way to the most insane part of the submission.

From the SMH:

For this reason, the council recommended investigation of phone-blocking technologies, stating 'the best method for prevention of dangerous behaviours is not education, but rather physical barriers to the behaviour'.

So a safety council is suggesting that cars come with technology designed to block mobile phones? You've got to be kidding me.

So that's one bonkers solution, but is there any practical way to get drivers to stop texting while operating a four-wheeled death machine? [SMH]

Image: Sylvar



    Meh, this is potentially another law which is going to be next to impossible to enforce.

      till we give police even more ridicules rights, like monitoring the position and calls of all mobiles, and any moving to fast automatically loses there licence or something.

        Let's just say there is another class of car users and call them "passengers"...

          ok ok, so we will make it illegal for passengers to use phones as well (that' how Australia works isn't it). What if the driver is distracted by the passengers high score in angry birds,THINK OF THE CHILDREN.

        I think it would be funny as hell to have police with more right to ridicule. No more yes sir, no sir, blah blah blah. They could trash talk your ride and have a laugh and maybe everyone would loosen up a bit.

          oops, typo. but i agree with you as long as we are allowed to ridicule them back without being beaten up and arrested.

    "According to the Sydney Morning Herald, a NSW government inquiry into reducing distractions while driving has been urged to implement the ban for “novice drivers"

    Depends what you call a "novice driver". I'm 23, drive 1000's of km a month all on rural roads - most gravel or unsealed, and safely use a mobile in a car kit every day. Bit harsh to ban everyone under 26 purely on age I think..

      What annoys me is that people are encouraged to wait until they're older to get their license. In Queensland (and apparently NSW), if you wait until you're 25 to get your P plates, you only have to wait a year before going on your open license. Under 25s have to do 3 years of P plates.

      While bracketing by age is easiest, it's pretty obvious that it gives no real indication of driving experience.

        Maybe not experience, but (in general) it does indicate greater maturity.

        with all the cops out to get the young kids it makes a huge amount of sense to hold off on the licence till you look a bit more mature (maybe till you have some lawyer money in the bank to deal with dodgy cops).

        I'd rather 3 years of P's than potentially 7 years of no driving at all just to avoid 2 years on P's, assuming I wanted to start driving at 18.
        Admittedly now though I'm 32 so not really an issue until my kids start driving.

          That's if you make it through the 3 years of p's without loosing your licence, which they make incredibly easy to do. Extra low speed limits, only a couple of points, only allowed to drive a particular times, general harassment from police that know you wont stand up for your self. Nice electric bike would do your kids much better.

      If you think it's safely, you should be banned

      It's NEVER safely!

        bloody hell, it's a car kit . Is using the radio or talking to your mate in the drivers seat dangerous too?

          In my experience, it most definitely is. If you don't think so, that probably means you don't concentrate enough on the road in the first place. It is not like talking to a passenger, who can act as a second set of eyes and at least knows when to be quiet so you can do what you need to do. Someone on the other end of a phone has no idea what conditions are or anything else. If I am going to be driving through the city or something, I will often deliberately leave my Bluetooth off so as not to be distracted at a bad time. On the freeway or around the suburbs, though, it is usually on.

            So a crying child that doesn't know to shut up because of some road emergency, is just as dangerous if not worse. Should we ban all children from cars as well?

              So if we can't get rid of every distraction, that means we should simply allow every possible distraction, is that how it works? Surely it is better to reduce the number of possible distractions as much as we reasonably can? Of course, if I was in charge, then I would want to legislate that an infant must be accompanied by someone other than the driver in a moving vehicle, so as to reduce driver distraction but I can't see that electoral platform as being a recipe for success.

                No smothering everything with laws is a terrible way of doing it. How about you teach people to think for them self (like we used to be able to do, until we all became such scared little cowards pointing fingers at each other). Instead of waiting for a politician to do it for them. Then we could answer a call but we will make it real quick, or if its an empty straight road you could do 10 km over the limit, instead of current situation where we wait till no one is watching then take it to the extreme. We are already hearing about how this would be next to impossible to enforce, so people will just ignore it and continue there dangerous ways, if we had made a good environment for common sense it wouldn't of been a problem in the first place. We have some of the most restrictive laws on the planet yet we still have a big percentage of young deaths (increased speed cameras in Queensland has resulted it a higher road death toll), obviously it's not working.

      Then how do you do it?

      And I'm not having a go at you or anything, but 1000's of kilometers doing rural driving doesn't necessarily mean you are a safe driver. It just means you've done thousands of kilometers.

      Studies have shown that Bluetooth drivers are still at a higher risk than not talking on a phone.

      I'm not trying to be a negative nancy with all this here, because I don't have the perfect solution either

        And talking to a passenger in your car puts you at a higher risk than not talking to a passenger in your car....

          Not necessarily.

          The person on the phone has no indication of the conditions that the driver is in. The conversation keeps going. If you're talking to the passenger you're more likely to stop the conversation completely or ignore the person until the drama has cleared.

            So you can't pause a phone conversation for 10 seconds?

            That's a cop out, it takes half a second to "hang on" or just ignore them, exactly the same as if your talking to a passenger, if your driving its perfectly fine to ignore someone if you need to concentrate.

            As for the "a passenger can be an extra pair of eyes" they can be yes, but most of the time they are looking at you when talking to you so not much use really. And if that's the case then it shouldn't be a problem to talk on the phone in the car if you have a passenger cause they can help you drive.

            I can talk hands free without any loss of concentration, purely because i give the bare minimal attention to the conversation (usually the attention that would normally be reserved for music), if people don't like the minimal attention they can bugger off and call me when im not driving. Its not like i have to assist a heart transplant over the phone while driving. The most intensive thought operation is usually figuring out either what i want for dinner or how long till i get home.

              Tim, as numerous road safety campaigns have gone to great lengths to point out, half a second can be the difference between life and death.

              As for passengers "looking at you" during a conversation, adults have roughly 180 degree vision, so looking at the driver means they are aware of what is both ahead of and behind the vehicle, so they are actually improving the coverage by doing that. You obviously don't think much about driving.

            I go awkwardly quiet if I need to while I'm on the phone and driving. I only use hands free (Speaker phone). I always tell the caller I'm driving, so I don't care if I even forget about the conversation all together. I still drive normally and try and listen, but mostly offer just "Yes, no" responses until the end of the call. Then I blast up the music and sing like a bitch doing 120 down the freeway.

          Not at all. As I said above, a passenger can be an extra pair of eyes - surely your passengers give you a "clear left" when you need it? - and they will shut-up if something crops up that requires your full attention.

            How about crying children that don't know to shut up when some road emergency pops up. Should all children be banned from cars as well?

              Is that the only point you can muster? Two wrongs don't make a right, so allowing every distraction simply because we cannot ban every distraction is stupid. It's like saying if we allow motorists to have two beers in an hour and drive, we may as well allow them to have 20 beers in an hour and drive home. And before you say it's not the same, think of the situation of the crying baby and phone conversation occurring together. i.e. Like drinks, distractions can be cumulative so the fewer we tolerate, the safer it is for everyone.

            ok i can tell you right here that a person who is not also an experiecned driver is a much muhc bigger distraction then someone who is on the other end of the phone. a passengers suggestions and warnings when they dont know A. whats really going on or B. gets excited/paniced in an emergency and starts yelling/flailing about is much worse then someone who for all intents and purposes isnt there at all.

            i talk on the phone while driving all the time and worse activities for distraction i can think of off the top of my head include. SATNAV, looking for a roadsign or shop, changing a cd or even chaning the track/radio station, children, non drivers, an angry passenger of any type, speed cameras.

            lets also think of things that cause distraction in some or all people and cause thier attention to lapse like automatic gearboxes and cruise control which means that the driver doesnt need to devote as much of thier mind to what they are doing and start using it to do/think of other stuff.

            THE ONE THING we should be doing to lower deaths on the road is get better drivers. you do this by making getting the licence much harder and making sure the training is intence and thorough. this makes any driver better. just banning possible distractions is going to do nothing we need to teach people how to manage their distractions

              I'm sorry but you are just making a point in favour of removing as many distractions as possible by pointing out how many drivers already have to deal with.

              Look driving is dangerous your never going to stop that (maybe when it's all computers driving). But the trick is to teach people to think for them selves, then if the baby is crying and they are getting a phone call they wouldn't take the call. In Germany the autobahn has unlimited speed but everybody doesn't drive around at the maximum speed of their car, they drive at the speed they are comfortable at for the conditions, not because of any law .

    Something definately needs to be done, but don't think this is the solution. Making bluetooth compulsory would probably be a better alternative rather then trying to block the phone altogether.

    lose more points and increase the fine.
    It should be as enforced as harshly as low level drink driving fines.

    Very tricky issue. I also get distracted by eating, radio, fallen objects etc..

      But nobody gives a sh*t about points? We have 12, if you're using 12 then you're definitely not a great driver.

      I've always campaigned that if they wanted to stop things, they'd increase the fines for everything. Most idiots that I'm friends with, would still drive without a licence. But hand them a 1000 dollar fine for going 15km/h over the limit and they're not going to rush out and do it again. Hand them a 200 dollar fine and they'll more than likely shrug it off and do it again.

      I emailed this to police a while ago and didn't really get a satisfactory answer. I think it should be pushed though.

        a thousand dollar fine for someone driving a $300,000 lambo is nothing. A thousand dollar fine for the lady driving a beat up mistubishi wagon who accidently missed a speed sign means potentially her children dont eat for a week. running that plan is like saying "lets have harsh laws! but you rich guys your exempt"

        if you want to do it that way it should be based on the registered value of the car say $200 plus 2.5% of the value of the car. so for wagon lady its like $300 and for lambo man its like $8000

          Are you kidding me? The fine you receive should be based on the value of your vehicle? That's incredibly stupid.

    So someone like my mum in her 50s who has trouble using a mobile at the best of times would be exempt. I think basing on age is as bad as basing on phone experience!

    And parents being distracted by kids in the back whilst on the phone can keep being a menace on the roads...

    If you so much as touch a mobile when driving in WA you risk a hefty fine and demerit points. Further, the cops have the right to haul you over and check your phone logs. You see, we're complete idiots in WA and can't be trusted, so we have to have extreme suppression. For example, grow a hemp plant and you'll lose your house to criminal confiscation laws that are very cleverly and specifically designed to make Government minister's mates very rich. WA? We're just peasants waiting to eat the rich!

      They'll need a warrant for that mate.

        not is Australia mate, check out all the new powers the police got since 911.

    Foolish trying to just ban a single age group. Non handsfree mobile activity has no place in cars period.
    Just step up the fines for those caught to onerous levels, including bans for repeat offenders and the inexperienced.

    Is there a way to ban children from crying in the back seat, or a partner that decides the drive to sydney is a perfect time to discuss how you didn't do the dishes a year ago, how about touch display radios (potentially just as dangerous as phones) . The answer isn't more laws and regulations (i know we love that in Australia) but better education, then you can deal with all of the above problems not just making money off the hot issue of mobiles phones now.

    Anyone can be distracted by a mobile device, not just younger people. In fact I think younger people may be in a better position of multitasking these devices than older people. Having said that - you really need the equipment to be totally hands off.

    banning sms in car is sensible. But having mandatory car kits that automatically answer your phone would do well too.

    I bet it was someone who is older than 26 who decided this should be a law, what a joke! there is no way to gauge experience by age. I know plenty of older people who dont drive often that would be more at risk than a younger driver who drives regularly. You could even spin it the other way no one over the age of 26 can drive with a phone because their reflexes arent as quick as the younger drivers.

    The problem is you can't legislate against stupidity. Lets say they do put mobile phone blockers in cars. What happens if your in an accident on a deserted road, your trapped and can't get out? Lets say that the system designed to stop the signal blocker fails to disengage. How do you call 000 to let them know that your in trouble and need help? Or better yet. Your a young woman being chased by a car load of guys. You know they are trying to grab you because you only just managed to avoid them when you were getting into your car at the car park. How do you call the police to tell them that your being chased by a bunch of guys trying to rape you? How often has this happened? I don't know exactly, I know the first one happens fairly regularly and has happened to me (Deserted country road, combination of inexperience, gravel road and a great big kangaroo coming through the windscreen). The second one probably not so much. but that could be due to the knowledge that the intended victim can call for help while driving.

      I'm going to round up a posse and start chasing innocent young women just to prove your point.... and because it sounds like a bit of fun.

    ^ So true Kelvin,
    would of been some grumpy old fart who came up with the idea because it looked good on a current affair... I drive an automatic and have never had any slight amount of problems with using my phone while driving though. I also use my phone as my GPS. I know driving manual and using a phone is pretty basic knowledge it doesn't work because u have a hand dedicated to the gear-stick. Just leave the system the way it is, if people have accidents then let them deal with it but being distracted by anything regardless what it is - is the drivers fault.

    The solution is simple - make police enforce the freakin' road rules. These days you can do pretty much anything you like on the road and have no fear at all of being caught. Compared to 20 years ago there just aren't any cop cars around these days. The roads are a free-for-all and it is a complete joke. Of course, I take full advantage and speed ALL the time and because NSW puts up big signs to warn you of cameras, I haven't been done since 1996. It's marvellous!

      It's a lot different in qeensland (the police state).

      It's marvellous, but you want it to stop it?

        Sure, I don't look at the world through the prism of my own personal gratification and if I had to modify my own behaviour so that the thousands of idiots who endanger us all on a daily basis can be pulled into line, then it would be selfish of me to be against it.

        One of my work colleagues videoed some moron eating a bowl of cereal, with milk, whilst driving on a main Sydney artery last week. I'd happily be more cautious if it meant idiots like that lost their licence for 6 months and learned a lesson from it.

          If you think more laws will stop idiots you couldn't be more wrong.

    Hmm... I have a few concerns here. I'm 21. I'm still on my provisional license, I drive a new-ish car I paid $20k for and I have a bluetooth system installed, as well as iPod direct.

    I regularly drive between Hobart and Launceston, a 210km drive on one of the worst roads I've seen. Sounds like a death trap for a 21 year old male in a new car with a perception of being safe in accidents. I really should have the 'she'll be right' mentality.

    My problem? Last time I drove this road, I had to, with short notice, make an emergency call (yes, over my bluetooth system) while driving the car. Now, if there was a mobile blocking device in my car... Cool.

    In that scenario, even someone without a handsfree system should ALWAYS be able to make an emergency call on whatever mobile device they have on them, regardless of age. I wonder if this group would take responsibility for those situations when emergency calls couldn't be made. Yes, I know it's a really unlikely scenario, and most times, it only takes a couple of seconds to pull over and turn off your engine, but there will always be a time where this isn't practical.

    Then again, I'm sure it'd be super easy to implement a system allowing emergency calls to pass through while blocking all other functions.

    /void comment.

      as a retailer who sells these kinds of systems ...i can tell you without fear of contradiction that yess thats possible.....its also garenteed 100% to fail constantly. there are too many phones and they all act a little wierd over bluetooth on occaiton...its just not a reliable system beyond basic call functions. the basic call functions work perfectly 99% of the time but phone books and filters and all that stuff have electrical hycups all the time.

    Using a mobile phone while driving should be the same sentience as drink driving for all drivers. We need to invent a device like a speed camera that looks into the car and can see the driver using a mobile while driving. That will come one day. This is not a hard product to built. I work in the electronic security industry and cameras are very intelligent with software. Who is going to build one?

      You can't really compare drink driving to mobile phone use.

    I can't decide what the biggest problem with the world is the people who say "there should be a law against..." or all the idiots who scream "Yeh, there should be a law"

    stupid law, what cops now are going to pull over people based on how old they look. beards are goin to back in a big way.

    Isn't it just easier to build more train lines if safety is the top priority.

      Sure, but you'd need to fund them with traffic fines.

    What about hand sensing devices which will trigger a warning, when either hand is removed from the vehicles controls for too long?

    I'm sorry but a ban on any use of a mobile phone means you get fined for plugging your iPhone into your stereo but not your iPod. How is that not stupid?

    How about they realise that everyone dies, its a fact and accidents happen. If the population gets higher, there will be a higher road toll no matter what. It is not something you can stop. As for using your phone while driving, I do it every day, I've never even been close to a accident and will never have one. I can multi task extremely well and dont understand how it hinders concentration? How is it different to talking to a passenger? I find it weird that someone can crash their car whilst driving in a straight line. Also, they make it way to hard to get your licence. Doing 120 hrs on L plates is absolutely ridiculous and pointless. Not everyone can get that kind of practice. They should just make the P test harder. The people that make these laws never had to put up with this bullshit, they probably just had to drive around the block with a cop. Also why are speed limitations so low?

    I agree with this, imagine your own kid dying from mobile phone use. Not a good picture at all. It's easy to call this ridiculous but safety first, not just for you but everyone else.

    errr... I don't understand...

    Don't they *already* have laws against using your phone whilst driving?

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