Spotlight on mobile phone use

RACQ has thrown its support behind calls for a review into rules around the use of mobile phones while driving.

The Age reported the National Transport Commission would investigate whether rules around mobile phone use needed to be toughened and whether it was safe to use GPS devices and hands-free mobile phones.

RACQ Head of Technical and Safety Policy Steve Spalding said some motorists still weren’t getting the message on distraction and it could be time to re-examine the effectiveness of enforcement and penalties for those who broke the rules.

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“When we surveyed motorists, 91 percent said they were concerned by drivers using handheld mobiles,” Mr Spalding said.

“Unfortunately, many people still think it’s OK to send a quick text or check social media while they’re driving.

“If you’re distracted by a phone, you’re at least four times more likely to have a crash. Not looking where you’re going is one of the easiest ways to make a potentially deadly mistake, and if it’s a vulnerable road user that you run into, such as a child crossing the road, roadside worker, or a cyclist or motorcyclist, it could cost them their life.”

Mr Spalding said in Queensland it was illegal to use a handheld mobile phone while driving and the offence attracted a $391 fine and three demerit points.

“If distraction is found to be the cause of a crash, the penalty can substantially increase, but the sad reality is, for victims of a distracted driver they’re potentially facing life changing injuries,” he said.

“A good way to make sure you’re not tempted by your phone when driving is to turn the ‘do not disturb’ function on or turn app notifications off. If this doesn’t work, put your phone in the boot of your car or the glove box.”