A cycling lobby group has sparked controversy after calling for devices to be fitted to all Aussie cars to block phone signals, in an effort to battle the rising road death toll.
However, many have hit back at the proposal and claim it could prove dangerous in an emergency.
The Bicycle Network is calling on the government to consider mandatory hi-tech devices for cars, which would block all phone signals making it impossible to make calls, send messages or use the internet while driving.
Its proposal came in response to a recent warning from the Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics (BITRE), predicting that distracted driving will be a key cause in the increase of road fatalities and serious injuries over the next 12 years.
“This dire prediction of increased loss of life highlights that cars should be fitted with phone blocking technology. Until that happens, whenever you get behind the wheel, you should turn off your phone and put it well out of the reach,” Bicycle Network CEO Craig Richards said in a statement.
“As bike riders we can see into cars and what drivers are up to. Every day we despair when we see drivers texting or just mucking around on Facebook. We understand the addictive lure of the phone but it’s risking people’s lives.”
“It’s clear that current policing isn’t curbing behaviour. It’s unfair to put the burden on the police. We need to take phone use out of the hands of drivers”
The device would, in turn, block phone reception in an emergency, but asked by the Herald Sun about that, Richards reportedly replied that the hope is the device would stop the accidents happening in the first place.
Victoria’s top traffic cop, Assistant Commissioner Doug Fryer, told the publication more needs to be done to improve road safety when it comes to phones, and added: “When it comes to data, we’re really keen to explore how we can block data coming into the driver of the vehicle only.”
If approved, it’s reportedly expected that each device would cost thousands of dollars for every vehicle installation.
However, the proposal has come under fire by many, who claim it would only prove dangerous in an emergency. One Twitter user commented: “I like to hit the road on my bike and road rage at cyclists is already bad enough, don’t you think this type of statement / claim will build even more anger up in the angry drivers?”
Meanwhile another pointed out: “Should block opening of phone. Voice activation only. Sadly, phones are a tool for trades and sales people,” and one wrote: “How about we change laws for cyclists, make them ride single file, no using phones or having head phones in listening to music, have a licence registration and insurance, tougher penalties when as most of them do they ignore the road rules.”
But others agreed with the proposal, and one Twitter user added: “I agree something needs to be done!” And another wrote: “A wonderful and necessary suggestion: drivers on phones are potential killers.”