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Driver distraction

In 2018, distraction was a factor in 12 fatal crashes
In 2018, distraction was a factor in 155 serious injury crashes


Driving needs your full attention. Driver distraction is a serious road safety issue. Essentially, anything that diverts a driver's attention for more than two seconds can significantly increase the likelihood of a crash or near-crash.

Distraction occurs when a driver’s attention is diverted away from concentrating on driving, towards competing events, objects or people.  

In 2018, driver distraction was a contributing factor in 12 fatal crashes, 155 serious injury crashes and 956 minor injury crashes.*

Distraction types

Keeping your mind on the task

Driving requires your complete attention. You need to keep control of your vehicle at the same time as maintaining an awareness of your surroundings and potential hazards.

There are many causes of inattention while driving, including:

  • mobile phones

  • music devices such as radios, CDs and iPods

  • driver information screens and GPS devices

  • food and drink

  • other passengers

  • scenery.

Avoiding driver distraction

  • Switch mobile phones OFF when driving. It is illegal to send or receive text messages or calls on hand-held mobile phones while driving.

  • Do Not Disturb While Driving mode - This feature is optional on Apple mobile phones, but we recommend setting it to Automatic. It takes about two seconds to turn on, and it could save your life.

    Information on how Do Not Disturb While Driving works in Apple iOS 11(external link)

  • Make sure your car's windscreen and mirrors are clean and adjust all of the controls (including radio/stereo) before setting off, or pull over safely to do so.

  • If you're unfamiliar with the route, check on a map before starting the journey or have someone read out directions. If you need to look at the map, safely pull over to the roadside.

  • Take regular breaks rather than eating, drinking or smoking while driving.

  • Ask passengers to be quiet if you're having difficulty concentrating.

Check out Auckland Transport's distraction material(external link)

Driver distraction campaign

View our latest driver distraction campaign – “Let Driving Distract You”.

The campaign encourages drivers to put down their mobile phone and create a place of sanctuary from an increasingly hectic and constantly connected life.


* Note: Crash data for 2018 is not yet complete. Data is for all crashes reported by the Police to the NZ Transport Agency for the year 2018 as recorded in CAS at 19/06/2019.