Cellphones, young drivers at the heart of research work

Cellphones, Young Drivers at the Heart of Research Work

“[R]apid motorization and insufficient investments in urban-transport planning, traffic management and infrastructure, are creating increasing problems in terms of accidents and injury, health, noise, congestion and loss of productivity.”

Article 7.48, Agenda 21, United Nations Earth Summit, 1992.


Major research projects at the University of Waikato are providing unbiased and science-based advice about driving to governments and industry.

The University’s Traffic and Road Safety Research Group aims to improve the safety, effectiveness and environmental sustainability of the transport sector by conducting high-quality research and relaying those findings in the form of knowledgeable advice.

The group has recently completed research into just how distracting cellphones are to drivers. It used a state-of-theart driving simulator to compare the distraction associated with passenger and cellphone conversations; that work informed the recent Government proposal to restrict cellphone use by drivers.

Another major project was the development of a CD-ROM-based training product ‘CD-Drives’ for young novice drivers to practice higher level driving skills such as eye scanning and hazard perception from the safety of their home computer. Improving these skills may not only reduce their crash risk but may also result in smoother eco-driving styles for more sustainable motoring. Funded by the ACC and Land Transport NZ (now the NZ Transport Agency), the training product is freely available to all new drivers (up to 60,000 each year) as part of the Practice programme.

The Traffic and Road Safety Research Group was formed in 1993 and has established an international reputation as New Zealand’s pre-eminent centre for road safety research.

External funding gratefully acknowledged: AA Driver Education Foundation, ACC, FRST, Transfund NZ, NZ Transport Agency, Marsden Fund, and Road Safety Trust.


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