New 'hand-held device' in cars could thwart cell-phone use

New Zealand's new public-service announcements get a chuckle – and are spot-on.

Safety watchdogs that track distracted-driving figures haven't yet quantified the impact of cell-phone use behind the wheel. But any driver who has glanced at their fellow motorists and found they're all glued to their screens knows it's a growing problem.

Not just in the United States, either.

Check out the above public-service announcement from New Zealand's government transportation agency. The government there is hoping a series of new spots encourage younger drivers to question their use of mobile phones while driving – and hoping to get a laugh or two along the way. Let's just say that New Zealand hopes to humanize the phrase "hand-held device."

"It's the first step in getting young people to view things from a different perspective – their passenger's," Transport Agency officials said in a statement. "By showing them that their passengers find their flippant mobile phone use unacceptable in the car, our audience will start to reconsider its appropriateness."

If the commercial strikes a nerve and you reconsider behavior behind the wheel, that's great. But remember that switching to a hands-free solution or using a voice-activated system isn't necessarily any safer than using a handheld device. Studies have shown that cognitive distraction occurs with either method.

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