Mobile phones and road safety

Roadcraft teaches driver awareness to support defensive driving techniques, and we know that the biggest impact on awareness is driver distractions. According to a study conducted in 2005, using a mobile phone increases your risk of a crash by four times.

Wednesday, 18 October, 2017 by Roadcraft

In response to road fatality data observed in 2015, Department of Transport and Main Roads QLD launched the 'Are you driving blind?' mobile phone distraction campaign aimed squarely at younger drivers that feel confident with mobile phone use while driving. Roadcraft teaches driver awareness to support defensive driving techniques, and we know that the biggest impact on awareness is driver distractions.

Young drivers are particularly at risk of road crashes due to distractions from mobile phone use, passengers*, and other devices and controls within the vehicle. According to a study conducted in 2005, using a mobile phone increases your risk of a crash by four times.

Dangers of mobile phone use as a driver

Using a mobile phone held in your hand while driving is illegal, even if you’re stopped in traffic or at an intersection. If you need to use your mobile phone, pull over and park in a safe place first. A fine and demerit points apply if you:

  • hold the phone next to or near your ear with your hand
  • write, send or read a text message
  • turn your phone on or off, or
  • operate any other function on your phone.

A hands-free system, wireless headset / earphone or loudspeaker function is allowed to be used, but only by open license and P2 provisional licence holders. Even with the use of a hands-free kit, your focus will not be 100% on your driving and the road and traffic conditions. The safest course of action is always to pull over and park (fully stop and turn off the vehicle ignition) before making or answering a phone call.

What are the rules?

For learner and P1 licensed drivers, legislation related to the use of mobile phones in a vehicle apply to both the driver and passengers. Learner and P1 provisional drivers under 25 must not use hands-free, wireless headsets or a mobile phone's loudspeaker function. Learner and P1 provisional drivers' passengers are also banned from using a mobile phone's loudspeaker function.

In our courses for learner and provisional drivers, Roadcraft teaches young drivers that the most important techniques for safety on the road revolve around awareness; of road conditions, vehicle controls and the driver’s own abilities.

*Young drivers have a greater risk of crashing when they have friends in the car. The stats also tell us that there’s more chance of causing a fatal crash when you have two or more friends in the car, especially male passengers.

Dangers of mobile phone use as a pedestrian

While videos of mobile phone using pedestrians falling into gutters or walking into street posts may have been a funny video internet sensation for a time, a number of Australian states have now introduced fines for mobile phone use while crossing roads. Because the year-on-year increasing number of pedestrian road fatalities is no joke. Thousands of people are injured monthly in the USA when they're texting while walking, which is where the call for pedestrian fines first came about.

Pedestrians may have right of way in Australia, but a new shock campaign by the Pedestrian Council of Australia (PCA) highlights the reality of what happens when car meets unaware human. Part of their ‘Don't tune out’ ad campaign, the video shows a young woman wearing headphones and engrossed in her mobile phone stepping out onto the road and being fatally struck by a car. According to the PCA, the TV and social campaign aims to shock pedestrians into understanding the deadly dangers of talking, texting and listening to music (often with noise cancelling earphones) while crossing the road.

What are the rules?

In Queensland, there is currently no legislation related to mobile phone use by pedestrians, and specific mention of the dangers of mobile phone use while crossing roads is notably absent from the TMR Pedestrian guide (online). Only a cautionary tip that “wearing headphones and using a mobile phone will reduce your awareness of what is happening around you” is noted.

There are no laws within any Australian jurisdiction specifically targeting pedestrians using their mobile phones. Each Australian state has similar laws to address pedestrians crossing roads without due care and awareness of other road users, and in some cases offences may attract a fine.

Despite specific laws not being passed to outlaw the use of mobile phones (as a pedestrian), Roadcraft believes that avoiding the very real chance of severe injury or death should be incentive enough to follow the long established guideline for crossing the road; stop, look and listen, before you cross the road.

More information:
www.qld.gov.au/transport/safety/road-safety/mobile-phones/

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