Driving while using a handheld mobile phone has again topped the most common offence list related to driver distraction, ACT Policing said yesterday (4 June).
Targeting driver distraction this month as part of their 2018-19 Road Safety Calendar, police said that they have issued 316 traffic infringement notices related to driving while using a phone so far this year (January – May) each carrying a penalty of $470 and three demerit points.
“There’s no excuse for handling your phone while you are driving. It is a practice that is very dangerous and unnecessary. Hands-free technology is readily available but the best option is to turn your mobile phone off or put it out of reach while you are driving,” Acting Officer in Charge of Traffic Operations, Sergeant David Wills said.
“Missing or not taking a call is a significantly better option than a serious collision that could have serious life-altering or fatal consequences.”
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According to ACT Policing, driver distraction is any action that takes a driver’s attention away from the road or impacts their driving ability. This includes using a mobile phone, driving with headphones, tuning your radio, managing children or pets on board, or even applying make-up.
Last year, a national survey carried out on behalf of Suncorp revealed that almost half of ACT and NSW motorists have had a near miss because they were distracted while driving, with 15 per cent of respondents actually causing an accident due to distractions.
According to the survey, which questioned more than 5,000 ACT and NSW motorists, the greatest distraction, particularly for parents, is having to discipline misbehaving kids while driving, with 59 per cent of respondents confirming this statistic. Misbehaving pets in the car, opening food while driving, and picking up something they have dropped inside the car were also listed as major distractions for drivers.
A quarter of the respondents said they have sent a text while driving, while 37 per cent said they have sent a text while stopped at a traffic light. Thirty-eight per cent of people have set a GPS navigation system while stopped at traffic lights.
Thirty-two per cent of people said they have had verbal conversations with a handset in hand, 38 per cent with the handset on their lap, and 46 per cent using a hands-free kit in their car.
“Keep yourself and other road users safe and put your phone down. Don’t let a distraction ruin your life,” ACT Chief Police Officer Ray Johnson said yesterday.