By Julia Contrucci
In 2018, 33 lives were lost to distraction on Queensland roads, and more than 1300 people were hospitalised in crashes caused by distracted driving.
“We’re getting tough on distracted drivers using mobile phones,” stated Queensland Minister for Transport and Main Roads about the harsh new measures.
As up this month, Queensland has the toughest penalties in Australia for drivers illegally using mobile devices behind the wheel. Drivers caught on the phone will be fined $1000 and lose four demerit points. Those caught a second time within 12 months will see double demerits applied and could lose their licence.
“We believe that number was under-reported too, because it’s difficult for investigators to confirm the link between phone use and these crashes,” Mr Bailey said as the Government pushes ahead to trial new camera technology that can capture drivers with phones in their hands or laps, currently being used in NSW.
“I’ve seen the technology in action. It works and I have no doubt it will save lives. We’re looking to start trials with this new camera technology in the coming months, so we’ll share more details about that with the community once we have everything in place.”
The Minister for Transport and Main Roads also stressed the importance of mobility to the technology, acting as a much-needed element of surprise. “These cameras are very mobile, so they can be moved around across urban and regional areas. I think, like mobile speed cameras, there needs to be that random element so drivers know they could be caught anywhere, anytime.”
Mr Bailey said distracted driving was a deadly driving trend akin to what drink driving was in the 1970s and 1980s. “A driver’s response time while texting is comparable to that of a driver with a blood alcohol reading of between 0.07 and 0.10,” he compared underlining the combined awareness efforts: “through random breath testing and huge investments in driver education campaigns, our society agrees drink driving is not on.”
As a closing statement, Mr Bailey urged for cooperation. “Now it’s time for all of us to send that message loudly and clearly to distracted drivers; don’t reach for the phone to send a quick text or check social media. Put the phone in the glovebox or set it to Do Not Disturb so you’re not distracted by it. It’s not worth risking your life or the lives of others.”