Driver distraction

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.  

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’s illegal to send or receive text messages or calls on hand-held mobile phones while driving. 
  • If you can’t resist the temptation to use your phone while driving, then make use of the Do Not Disturb While Driving feature that’s available for both Apple and Android users. When Do Not Disturb While Driving is activated, it helps you stay focused on the road. Text messages and other notifications are silenced or limited. It only takes a few seconds to activate and it could save your life.
  • Make sure your car's windscreen and mirrors are clean and adjust the controls (including your radio/stereo) before setting off or pull over safely to do so.
  • If you're unfamiliar with the route, check a map before starting your journey or have someone else in the vehicle read out directions.
    • If you need to look at the map, pull over safely.
    • If you use GPS/ mobile device for navigation, make sure you do so safely.
  • Take regular breaks rather than eating, drinking or smoking while driving.
  • Ask passengers to be quiet if you're having difficulty concentrating.

How to use Do Not Disturb for a distraction free drive

Watch this video on how to turn on Do Not Disturb for both Apple and Android users.

Devices can’t block drivers view

It’s important to keep your windscreen clear, not just because the law requires you to but for safety reasons. You need to see the road well - not just in your “critical vision area” but also your sideways view of parked cars, pedestrians, cyclists and others. 

Land Transport (Road User) Rule 2004(external link)

If you use a GPS unit or tablet for directions, these need to be easy for you to see, but must also be placed to ensure your views are not dangerously obstructed.  A good guide for this is not to cover any of the inner windscreen area 65mm from the bottom, or 90mm from the top or side of the windscreen:

Diagram showing the dimensions of the critical vision area on a windscreen

Windscreen critical vision area – to be measured from the inside of the vehicle from the point where the glass is visible (ie after any seals).

Phone attached to the inside windscreen of a car, next to the steering wheel.

Wrong position – slightly to the left, on the windscreen and obstructing the view.

Phone in a car, next to the steering wheel, in the centre of the dashboard.

Correct position – off the windscreen, in the centre of the dashboard.

Further information

Legal mobile phone use while driving

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 their increasingly hectic and constantly connected life.