Kiwi students forfeit mobiles for 48 hours to fight 'endemic' and deadly car phone use

Illegal cellphone use in cars has been described as 'endemic' by a group of students campaigning to reverse the dangerous trend.

Students Against Dangerous Driving (SADD) has organised a weekend long campaign called Phone Free 48, encouraging people to keep their eyes on the road and not their phones.

Students across the country will go without their phones for 48 hours, from Friday night until Sunday night, and will be sponsored by family and friends.

Piper Young, a SADD National leader at St Dominic's College, said phones are a big part of young people's lives, and entrenched in everyday activities.

"You know, you have your phone everywhere, you need it to do your Snapchat, your need it for your Instagram, to call your Mum, everything like that!" Ms Young said.

She and many of her friends are going cold turkey on their technology all weekend.

"It takes roughly like four seconds to read a text message and so if you take your eyes off the road for four seconds, a lot could happen. You could swerve, or someone else could cut in front of you and you could rear-end them. So the possibilities are endless."

Young people are the group most likely to be involved in crashes caused by distractions in the car. And the safety of young drivers appears to be getting worse.

Crashes involving young drivers on learner and restricted licences have risen by 74 per cent since 2013, compared with an overall increase of 40 per cent for the whole population.

Young learner and restricted licence holders now account for around one in seven fatal or serious injury crashes.

AA's Dylan Thomsen agrees the problem is worse for young people, as they’re the group most likely to be involved in a crash due to distracted driving.

"If you're using a phone illegally for a call, you're about four times more likely to be involved in crash; Texting, you're more like 23 times more likely to be involved in a crash," Mr Thomsen said.

Donna Govorko, SADD's National Manager, said young people are the perfect advocates to instill change in other young people.

"You can just drive alone today, and you'll see people using their phones, and it's endemic around our whole culture. It's a behaviour change - it's people understanding that looking down at your phone can be fatal," Ms Govorko said.

Students Against Dangerous Driving are campaigning to highlight the deadly trend of mobile use behind the wheel. Source: 1 NEWS