Police officer's warning not to use a phone behind the wheel
FOLLOWING a recent horror run on our roads, the Queensland Government is cracking down on distracted drivers, introducing a higher penalty for those using a phone behind the wheel.
Transport Minister Mark Bailey this week announced his proposal to increase fines up to $1000 for distracted drivers, with possible loss of licence for a second offence.
As a road policing officer, Dalby Sergeant Mark Woitowitz has seen first hand some drivers' blatant disregard for the law when it comes to using their phones.
"I've actually been right beside a car in an unmarked (police vehicle), tooting the horn trying to get their attention, and they're still looking down texting, oblivious of me beside them in a police uniform,” he said.
Sgt Woitowitz sees drivers on their phones daily and said the issue was becoming more common and dangerous.
"We're still detecting offences for mobile phones all the time. I am seeing it every single day, everywhere I go and some of it is that blatant,” he said.
"It's extremely dangerous. We've seen fatalities caused as a direct result of it.
"They've conducted research and they say it's the equivalent of driving with alcohol in your system.”
Penalties for the offence have already started to toughen, with the fine rising almost $50 on July 1.
In Queensland, the penalty for being caught on your phone while driving is a $400 fine and three demerit points, and if caught for a second time in 12 months the demit points double to six.
Sgt Woitowitz warned the penalty would be particularly hard to swallow for one of the age groups most likely to use their phone while driving.
"When you think of a P-plater, they only get four points, so one offence and that's nearly their licence gone, and you don't get your points back for another three years after the date of the offence.
"That's a long time to be sitting on no points.”
To Dalby drivers, SgtWoitowitz has this warning: "Absolutely do not touch your phone while you are driving a motor vehicle.
"The offence is 'driver use hand held mobile phone'.
" As soon as you hold that phone in your hand to look at it, you are deemed to be using a mobile phone and that constitutes the offence.”