7 June 2018

Police remind Canberrans that driver distractions can have serious consequences

| Glynis Quinlan
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driver looking at phone

Police say the most common offence related to driver distraction in the ACT is mobile phone use.

ACT Policing is targeting driver distraction this month – reminding motorists that taking their eyes off the road can have serious consequences.

The initiative follows on from Suncorp research which 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.

Officer in Charge of Traffic Operations, Detective Sergeant Marcus Boorman said: “everybody has seen other drivers distracted whilst they are driving”.

“By taking your eyes off the road for just one second there can be serious and life-altering consequences for yourself, your family and other road users,” said Detective Sergeant Boorman.

According to ACT Policing, the most common offence related to driver distraction in the ACT is mobile phone use.

Police have issued 770 traffic infringement notices and cautions for mobile phone use so far this year (January to May 2018).

The recently-released results of a survey of more than 5,000 ACT and NSW motorists commissioned by Suncorp also showed that mobile phones were a big distraction with a quarter of respondents saying they had sent a text while driving and 32 per cent of people saying they’d talked on hand-held mobile phones while driving.

Misbehaving children, unrestrained pets, opening food, and taking your eyes off the road to search for street signs were some of the other big driver distractions according to the research. However, these distractions would be less likely to be recorded as offences.

ACT Policing state that driver distraction is any action that takes a driver’s attention away from the road or impacts their driving ability.

Throughout the year, the multi-agency road safety strategy targets specific issues and behaviours which contribute to death and serious injuries on Canberra’s roads, with driver distraction among those concerns.

In June, police will particularly focus on driver distraction and are reminding motorists to keep their eyes on the road.

“Driving is a privilege, not a right, so everybody needs to take road safety seriously, use common sense and drive responsibly.”

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I think the police here, and elsewhere, are failing to deal with drivers using their phones. I see it constantly, clearly drivers don’t fear any consequences of being fined in Canberra for using their phones.

I don’t know what the solution is- much bigger fines, cameras to catch and fine people, but I want to police and government to do a lot more about this.

I agree, and I think it is time Government considered a different approach because the current approach of a media release every now and again is not working. My thinking is that people should be empowered to provide video footage from good quality dash cams and provided with a monetary reward if a fine is issued. Also, every ACTION bus is equipped with a camera system and it would be that hard to employ a couple of public servants to review the daily footage and issue fines for mobile phone use while driving.

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