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New Zealand bans mobile use while driving

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CIOL Bureau
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HAMILTON, NEW ZEALAND: Use of handheld mobile phone while driving will be banned here in the next two months due to a rise in the number of accidents, with a New Zealand official stressing that "using a mobile phone while driving is dangerous".

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The ban comes into effect from Nov 1.

There were 25 fatal crashes and 482 accidents that caused injuries in New Zealand between 2003 and 2008 in which the use of a cellphone was a factor.

The drivers using handheld mobiles would be liable for an $80 fine and 20 demerit points.

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The ban will not cover hands-free devices or two-way radio, and there will be an exemption for police calls made in emergency situations.

Mike Noon, New Zealand Automobile Association (AA) general manager (motoring affairs), said that the ban while driving in New Zealand had come very late.

Noon said: "It should have been implemented in the past, as using a mobile phone while driving is dangerous. Even we urge people not to wait for Nov 1, and put off your (mobile phone) while driving from today."

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'100 Cars Naturalistic Study' showed that using either hand-held or hands-free mobile can be as dangerous as driving at the legal blood/alcohol limit, and it increases the risk of being involved in a crash by 400 percent.

The Indian diaspora in New Zealand has urged all community members to support the move.

Jarnail Singh Rahon, general secretary of the Shaheed Bhagat Singh Memorial Trust, said, "Cellphone use by drivers is banned in many countries, and it's a good step to implement the same rule here in New Zealand. Using a mobile phone while driving is really very dangerous. The need of hour is to implement this amendment strictly."

Amaninder Singh Brar, a horticulture student, said: "Despite the fact that everyone is aware of life risk involved in using phone while driving, they do (it). The fear of getting fined or demerit points on driving license would definitely forbid them from using mobile while driving." 

©IANS

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