A huge number of Australians admitted to using a mobile phone while driving.
A huge number of Australians admitted to using a mobile phone while driving.

Chilling obsession ‘killing’ Australians

A chilling new obsession is killing Aussies - according to road safety advocates.

A recent survey by the RACQ (Royal Automobile Club of Queensland) found that four out of ten motorists admit to texting behind the wheel.

According to RACQ's spokeswoman Lauren Ritchie, driver distraction is one of the biggest issues facing motorists and drivers are four times more likely to be involved in an accident if they are using their mobile phone.

"We're a society obsessed with our devices and it's an addiction that's killing us," she says.

"There are three different types of distraction - cognitive, physical and visual - and texting while driving encompasses all of these. Your mind is off the task, your hands are off the wheel and your eyes are off the road."

Taking your eyes off the road for an extended time can be extremely dangerous.
Taking your eyes off the road for an extended time can be extremely dangerous.

But the survey found it wasn't just texting that was distracting motorists. A large amount of drivers also handle their phones to make calls, use GPS, play music and check social media.

Bernard Carlon the executive director for the Centre of Road Safety has previously told news.com.au: "At 60 km/h, if you look at your phone for just two seconds, you travel 33 metres, virtually blind. A short lapse in concentration can have serious consequences."

"No phone call, email, message or social media post is worth risking your life or someone else's. Reduce the temptation by putting the phone out of reach - it's just not worth it."

Drivers in all states face stiff penalties if they are found to be using their phone while driving.

South Australian motorists are slugged the most with a $534 fine and three demerit points; Northern Territory drivers are hit with $500 and three demerit points; Victorian drivers will be hit with a $484 fine and four demerit points; ACT drivers get a $470 fine and three demerit points; Queensland and WA drivers get a $400 fine and three demerit points; NSW drivers will cop a $344 fine and five demerit points and Tassie motorists have the most lenient penalty at $336 and three demerit points.

But Queensland may soon have the most severe punishment in the country. Earlier this year the Queensland transport minister Mark Bailey flagged the potential for $1000 fines for using a mobile phone while driving.

"Families and the wider community forever pay the price for that decision to check social media or read a text," says Mr Bailey.

"We've seen a major cultural shift in our attitude to drunk driving and we need to have that conversation now about our obsession with screen time while driving."

There has been a recent uproar after it was revealed motorists can be stung by police if they use their mobile phone to pay for drive-through fast food.


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