Driving while using a phone still the most common offence related to distracted driving

Ruwendi Wakwella 5 June 2019 12

“No excuse for handling your phone while you are driving” – Acting Officer in Charge of Traffic Operations, Sergeant David Wills. Photo: George Tsotsos.

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.”

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.

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12 Responses to Driving while using a phone still the most common offence related to distracted driving
maxblues maxblues 1:37 am 07 Jun 19

I’m a bit old fashioned, but is using a fax machine while driving an offence?

Spiral Spiral 3:53 pm 06 Jun 19

The current laws are stupid and encourage people to break them.

Using a mobile phone for something simple such as checking an sms while stopped at traffic lights is not dangerous and at worst generally would result in an annoyed driver behind you beeping their horn. This is not really any different from adjusting the radio or heater or lighting a cigarette while stopped at the lights.

Using your phone while moving is dangerous. However I believe many people, concerned about being caught checking their phone while stopped at the lights where there are plenty of bored people looking around, choose to do so while moving because they think they are less likely to be spotted.

Bill Gemmell Bill Gemmell 8:27 am 06 Jun 19

These coppers are either a bunch of fools or think we are a bunch of fools. To put out some media not followed up by concrete action actually has the opposite impact to the one intended. I see folk of all ages, genders and persuasions using their mobiles while driving. I am sure pretty much everyone else does as well. I haven't seen anyone actually stopped for the offence (or pretty much any offence), nor met anyone who has been booked for it!

Malcolm Campbell Malcolm Campbell 11:36 pm 05 Jun 19

Police should be allowed to remove phone from the vehicle and make you go back to station to get it back

Paul South Paul South 10:46 pm 05 Jun 19

Oohh give me phone thats actually works on voice command .. . Its like a space Odysse 2000 .. we cannot find that number in your contacts list ...... DAVE

Mick Johnson Mick Johnson 9:42 pm 05 Jun 19

so is it using or handling?

    Nick Stone Nick Stone 2:57 pm 06 Jun 19

    Mick Johnson

    Both. Unless the phone is attached to a approved craddle/holder of sorts.

Rodney Weber Rodney Weber 8:39 pm 05 Jun 19

The so called smart systems in modern cars allow people to legally make and receive phone calls. Well I think these sync, etc systems are shockingly distracting. They require far too much interaction, even just to change the temperature control. They are a disaster waiting to happen :-(

Hans Dimpel Hans Dimpel 7:13 pm 05 Jun 19

wish they'd catch more of them.

Domenic Fabbo Domenic Fabbo 11:49 am 05 Jun 19

It would be interesting to see statistics on issued infringement notices issued to drivers for using their mobile. I see 1 in 3 drivers using their mobile phones while I’m driving so I expect infringement notices would be in the thousands????????

    Alan Rose Alan Rose 12:17 pm 05 Jun 19

    Domenic Fabbo because there are very few police on the actual streets people get away with it. Red light runners are another problem and speeding.

    Leos Nikias Leos Nikias 5:54 pm 08 Jun 19

    Alan Rose

    There are police out on the streets. They are also dealing with assaults, burglaries, thefts, mental health consumers, etc etc!

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