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Using a Mobile Phone While Driving

Using a Mobile Phone While Driving

A mobile phone is an essential part of many peoples lives. They help us stayed connected to family and friends through phone calls and social media, access emails for business use, take and store photos and videos, provide access to the internet and possibly help saves lives in an emergency.

But what if it was the mobile phone that caused the emergency?

Cars are safer than ever but the number of people killed on Australian roads rose from 1135 in 2018 to 1182 in 2019. So, is driver distraction the cause for the increase in the death toll on our roads?

How does mobile phone use distract a driver behind the wheel?

Using your mobile phone impairs your driving performance by making it more difficult to maintain your lane position, maintain your speed, maintain safe distances between vehicles, slow your reaction time and decrease your general awareness of traffic. Here are the 3 main points as to why your driving performance is affected:

  1. Physical distraction – removing your hands from the steering wheel to touch your phone.
  2. Visual distraction – taking your eyes off the road to look at your phone.
  3. Cognitive distraction – performing two mental tasks at the same time causes lapses in attention and judgement.

If you are travelling at 50km per hour, a 2-second glance at your mobile means you will travel up to 28 metres blind. In that 2 seconds, you could miss someone suddenly braking in front of you or a pedestrian crossing the road, resulting in a pretty horrible outcome.

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So, what can you do to avoid becoming distracted while driving?

  1. Do Not Disturb - If your phone has a DND function, activate it. If your phone doesn't have this feature there are apps you can download to use it.
  2. Avoid temptation – by keeping your phone somewhere out of reach, such as your bag on the backseat, the glovebox or boot.
  3. Turn it off - Turn your phone on silent, or turn it off completely when driving.
  4. Speak up - If you are a passenger, speak up and encourage others to be safe.

It is no secret the dangers associated with being distracted by your mobile phone whilst behind the wheel, but it seems the message just isn’t getting through to some road users.

In an effort to reduce driver distractions, Western Australian drivers will be issued an on-the-spot fine of $1000 and 4 demerit points if caught for the offence of texting, emailing, using social media, watching videos or accessing the internet while driving, from July 1st 2020.
Touching your mobile phone while stopped at traffic lights or holding the phone while taking a call is regarded as a lesser offence and will incur a penalty of $500 and three demerit points.

The penalties in other states are as follows:

New South Wales: $344 and five demerit points, with penalties rising to $457 in school zones.
Queensland: $1000 and four demerit points. Repeat offenders will receive a $2000 fine and double demerit points if caught again within 12 months from the previous offence.

Victoria: $496 and four demerit points.

ACT: $480 and three demerit points for handheld phone use and a $589 fine and four demerit points for driver using mobile device for messaging, social networking, mobile application or accessing internet.

South Australia: $534 and three demerit points.

Western Australia: $400 and three demerit points. (Increasing as of July 1st 2020)

Northern Territory: $500 and three demerit points.

Tasmania: $336 and three demerit points.

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Have you ever used your mobile phone whilst driving? Do you think the large fine will help deter drivers from using their mobile phones behind the wheel?


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