A Kiwi anti texting-and-driving initiative by Vodafone won a global telecommunications award in London this week.
Drivesafe, an AA and NZTA-endorsed service to help people resist using their cellphone when driving, picked up the Consumer Service Innovation Award at the Global Telecoms Business Awards.
The free service was launched in February and allows Vodafone customers to text ‘DRIVE ON’ to 760 when they are getting in a car. From then on anyone texting the driver will receive an automated reply saying “I’m driving right now. I’ll read your TXT as soon as it is safe to do so.” Once at their destination, the user texts DRIVE OFF to deactivate the service.
It has been used by more than 2500 people so far.
"The people who have used it find this genuinely helps them to leave their phone alone," says says AA spokesman Mike Noon.
“As an added bonus it spreads the message that texting and driving don’t mix."
He says texting while driving is a growing problem around the world, especially among younger people.
Texting while driving topped the AA’s list of top 10 driver distractions in January and a recent University of Otago study found 54 percent of drivers on a restricted licence admitted to texting while driving occasionally or more often.
"We’d now like to see other telecommunications companies do their bit for road safety,” says NZTA chief adviser, safety directions, Lisa Rossiter.