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Road crashes resulted in an estimated 720,000 fatalities in the Asia-Pacific region in 2019, accounting for 56% of global fatalities. In addressing the road safety crisis, voluntary performance targets for road safety risk factors and service delivery mechanisms were adopted by the global community on 21 November 2017. One of the twelve voluntary targets is “By 2030, all countries have national laws to restrict or prohibit the use of mobile phones while driving.” Furthermore, the Regional Plan of Action for Asia and the Pacific for the Second Decade of Action for Road Safety 2021-2030 emphasizes on changing human behaviours towards safe road use through enactment of laws and their enforcements as well awareness building. The use of a mobile phone while driving is a defined safety risk leading to visual distraction, cognitive distraction, and physical interference with safe control of the motor vehicle, thus creating a risk of injury. Although using a mobile phone while driving is dangerous, the scale of the injury issue is uncertain due to a lack of information, and there is little or no multilateral guidance on the problem.

Against this background, this report considers distraction caused by the mobile phone use as a challenge for safe road travel. It studied different countermeasures to reduce the risk of mobile phone use while driving, through i) infrastructure and vehicle measures, ii) behavioural measures, and iii) laws and good practices in the region. The study findings recommended that ESCAP member countries review the laws applying to mobile phone use, based on a good practice protocol, focusing on any device being held in the hand, supported by enforcement and communications. It is also recommended that ESCAP member countries continue to work towards delivering a safe road traffic system to their communities, through the implementation as appropriate of the Regional Plan of Action for Asia and the Pacific for the Second Decade of Action for Road Safety 2021-2030.