• Peter Bateman
    This RNZ story about police cracking down on drivers' use of mobile phones concludes with this paragraph:

    "And cellphone companies themselves are coming up with solutions, with some phones automatically shutting down once a vehicle is travelling at a certain speed."

    Most people are addicted to the pings coming from their phone and have an irresistible urge to check - even while driving.

    Looking at the hierarchy of controls, and starting at the bottom, PPE doesn't really apply, and no amount of training (or fear of getting a ticket) will overcome addiction and our urge to check.

    If all phone companies agreed to render their phones inoperable when they detect travel at a certain speed, that would be a form of engineering control which would eliminate the risk.

    Or would it? Answers please!
  • Chris Anderson
    How would this work with features like hands free/ Bluetooth/ Android Auto? How would it detect a driver's phone vs. a passenger's phone?

    One of the biggest issues is the lack of deterrent, there isn't enough enforcement and the fine for use is minuscule.
  • Chris Hyndman
    If all phone companies agreed to render their phones inoperable when they detect travel at a certain speed, that would be a form of engineering control which would eliminate the risk.Peter Bateman

    Although my phone now knows when I'm in my car (I assume via Bluetooth connection) I don't think current technology would allow this to be viable. Simply turning off GPS would circumnavigate the devices ability to measure speed. Its also worth remembering that phones are more than just comms devices, the Sat Nav, Music library, GPS tracking devices are all useful (and hands free) to drivers, and that usefulness goes up a notch when you think of services such as Uber/Ola taxi services.

    There's also the problem of this solution potentially not differentiating between a drivers and a passengers device.

    Maybe we're left with the airlines behavioral solution for the time being, which is to ask all phone users to partially disable phones by using airplane mode before moving. A very safety 1 approach of making the punishment fit the crime would add an element of self policing too :grin: .
  • Michael Wilson
    I have an app that blocks calls if I am travelling over 30 kph. I rarely run faster than that so it works well. It sends a text saying sorry I am driving. I can override if I am a passenger.
  • EmmaB
    Tbh my personal solution is to put my phone in my bag in the boot unless I'm using google maps to navigate. That takes willpower...a simpler alternative is to switch off the sound/ vibrate modes so you don't know its ringing...I would do that, but have a tendency to forget to switch them back on again...some kind of autosilence activation might be a future option, then if you're a passenger you can continue to use, and the phone won't be as distracting...I do think engineering controls will be the solution in the medium term.
  • David Bird
    Agreed, your solution is an example of how to break a bad habit - "Make it difficult" . Great book I just read called 'Atomic Habits', highly recommended and can see use as a tool in H&S space.
    How to break a bad habit (95K)
  • EmmaB
    Thanks David, one to get for my next trip away. Breaking habits ( and making positive new ones) is a hot topic at the moment...
  • Sheri Greenwell
    What would happen if you were using Waze or Google Maps to navigate? Waze already has a safety feature that doesn't let you type in the app when you are moving.

    Having said that, I don't text while I am driving and I usually let calls go to voicemail, only answering if it's important / urgent and my phone is safely in the hands-free holder.
  • Peter Bateman
    I take the point about GPS, but texting and talking on the phone (yes, even hands-free) is a known fatal risk which has already caused dozens of deaths in NZ and will inevitably cause hundreds more.
    Such risks cannot be minimised by trying to develop better habits. That's like asking a machinery operator to not put his hand in the machine to clear a jam. You can train, train, train on this but human nature always takes over. Elimination of the risk by introducing an engineering control is the way to go for machinery - it takes the human element out of it (if done properly).
  • Rowly Brown
    I agree with the tenor of your statement Peter in that instructing people to 'be more careful ' , "use common sense", "follow the instructions" etc is hopelessly unreliable.
    Engineering controls can be amongst the most effective means of reducing risk, but at the end of the day they are just a control measure and do not provide Elimination. Eliminate means the hazard no longer exists. Guarding a machine generally creates a physical barrier between the hazard as part and the persons exposed to it. The degree of sophistication and effectiveness of the control measure should be determined by the potential harm that could arise, the level of exposure that occurs, and the likelihood that a damaging event could still occur. Risk is a factor of all three elements (harm/severity, frequency of exposures, and likelihood/probability of a damaging occurrence). The practicability of the control (reasonably practical steps) is a factor of the risk, the availability, and the effectiveness of the control measure being considered.
    Manufacturers have found ways to engineer controls into vehicles to reduce the propensity for drivers to lock their keys inside. They found various ways to balance human fallibility with cost-effective measures to maintain vehicle security and minimise damage. Quite possibly an engineering solution by vehicle manufacturers for preventing use of personal media devices in moving vehicles could be on the horizon.
    We have accepted handheld RT communication devices in commercial vehicles for a long time. There is a balance that needs to be found between convenience and safety. In the meantime it looks like we are relying on self-discipline and third-party monitoring (police.)
  • E Baxter
    Using your phones function "do not disturb while driving" means that your phone isn't beeping or flashing notifications while you are in the car. Only incoming calls are allowed which come through via Bluetooth. Talking like this is no more distracting than having conversations with someone actually in the car. To me turning this on is a no brainer, and if I am a passenger its easily disabled till I am next in the car.
  • Matthew Bennett
    I like the thread of questioning. Consider this:

    Two independant objects, each with a mass of 1 tonne travelling towards each other at 50km/h + (Force=Mass*Acceleration). The only thing preventing them from colliding is a social convention (the controller of the object will stay to the left).

    If we consider safety to be the control of energy does this actually sound like a reliable safety approach? Would we accept this in any other aspect of work? And the single preventative control in place to avert a catastrophic failure is possibly the most prone to task overload?

    While the mobile phone is a clear issue, any solution to this distraction requires compliance on the part of the oprator. It won't address the mirade of other forms of distraction (kids fighting in ther back of the car), task (over) loading and production line presures that the driver faces. And we still haven't adress the other dimensions of the equation - all the other road users.

    So mobile phones aren't the hazard, risk or vector, rather a symptom. The only true or viable engineered control I am aware of on the hrozon is self driving vehicles.

    Of course we could eliminate the risk and take up walking ;-)
  • Andrew
    I stil don't see phones as the problem

    Its people thinking its quite Ok to drive while distracted. Distracted by drinking the morning coffee, distracted by putting on the lippy and checking the hair, distracted by the cigarette smoking, distracted by adjusting the radio / heating controls, distracted by the lap dog, distracted by listening to the latest podcast.

    Ands really how dangerous is it. If you can do 148kph in a 80k zone surely a bit of texting can't be that bad.
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