A new campaign set to hit TV screens tonight will warn Queenslanders that using their phones behind the wheel is as dangerous as drink driving.
The latest safety pitch to Queensland drivers comes a fortnight after the Palaszczuk Government introduced tougher laws for drink drivers.
Transport and Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey said government research showed 70 per cent of Queenslanders admitted to occasionally using their mobile phone while driving.
“All of us has seen someone texting or looking at their phone when their eyes should be on the road,” Mr Bailey said.
“I think most of us accept that we need phones and mobile devices as part of our daily lives, but what we shouldn’t accept is that it’s OK to use them while driving.
“Studies clearly show it’s lethal and we need to send a strong message that using a phone while driving is socially unacceptable.
“We can’t be complacent and let these illegal and deadly habits set in.
“All of us need to call out drivers who risk lives for a like or to look at their phone.
“We did it in the 1980s with ad campaigns that drove the message home on drink driving, and that’s what this latest campaign aims to do with distracted driving.”
The new campaign uses dashcam footage of drivers being distracted by texts and social media.
The ads include real-life footage captured as part of the recent ‘Drive smarter not faster’ campaign, paired with recreated footage showing drivers using their phones illegally.
The drivers featured in the campaign were fully aware of the dashcams in their own vehicles but that didn’t stop them from checking their phones while driving.
“The people in this campaign should be congratulated for their honesty and willingness to be part of it, but the footage highlights how so many drivers out there take their eyes off the road to use their phone,” Mr Bailey said.
“In 2018, 33 people lost their lives in crashes because of distracted driving and 1,358 people were hospitalised.
“Thirty-three per cent more people died in 2018 as the result of distracted driving compared to the previous five-year average, and 21% more people were hospitalised compared to 2017.
“This problem is much larger than what is reported because the number of crashes caused by mobile phone use can be difficult to verify.”
The ‘Leave your phone alone’ campaign comes on the back of the Palaszczuk Government’s announcement that it was looking at $1000 fines and automatic licence suspensions for repeat offenders caught on their phone behind the wheel.
Minister Bailey said the government was expected to announce the new measures as part of the Queensland Road Safety Action Plan due for release in late November.
He said the ‘Leave your phone alone’ campaign likened mobile phone use while driving to drink driving.
“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 said.
“Texting while driving is especially dangerousas it provides a physical and cognitive distraction, potentially causing the driver to swerve across lanes, travel at inconsistent speeds, miss signs and not see hazards.
“I’m pleased this message has also been picked up and shared by others, like we’ve seen the RACQ do with its own campaign encouraging drivers to set up the ‘do not disturb while driving’ option on their smart phones before they get behind the wheel.
“Allowing messages and notifications to be silenced is free, and it’s easy and it’s important that we work together to continue reminding people of these potentially life-saving habits.”