Police jurisdictions across Australia will unite on Wednesday 18 May to put a stop to death by distraction on the nation’s roads.
Members of the Australian Road Policing Network will take part in a National Day of Action targeting distraction offences. The national operation will run for 24 hours from 12.01am on Wednesday, with police across the country having a highly visible presence to educate and expiate motorists who are distracted from the complex task of driving.
While the definition and penalties for distracted driving vary across the country, research shows that 60% of Australian drivers admit to using a mobile phone whilst behind the wheel.
Research from the Australian Automobile Association (AAA) defines distraction as any action that diverts a person’s attention from another critical activity, such as safe driving or crossing the road. AAA research further reveals that distraction is the main contributing factor in at least 16% of all Australian serious injury crashes. Research further indicated that distraction is as dangerous, if not more dangerous than drink driving. (AAA 2020)
South Australian data reveals the following:
- ‘Distraction’ is the highest fatal five contributory factor for both lives lost and serious injuries in South Australia and has been on a steep trend increase since 2017.
- For the five year period 2017-2021, 247 (51%) lives lost and 1,330 (34%) serious injuries had distraction listed as a contributing factor for the crash.
- 69% of distraction related lives lost and 53% of distraction related serious injury crashes occurred on South Australian rural or regional roads.
- Fatal five contributing factors are not exclusive and more than one fatal five category may be attributed to a crash. However, it has been noted that ‘Distraction’ is the category that is most likely to have no other fatal five category listed as a contributing factor.
Superintendent Bob Gray, Officer in Charge Traffic Services Branch said drivers in South Australia and across the country need to understand just how dangerous it is to focus on anything other than driving when they’re behind the wheel.
“Police will not rest until we get the message through to both metropolitan and regional drivers – if you allow yourself to be distracted whilst driving, you’re risking death or serious injury, not just for yourself but for other innocent road users.”
Minister for Police, Emergency Services and Correctional Services, Joe Szakacs MP said, “I urge all motorists to make good choices on the roads. Poor choices can result in devastating and long lasting consequences for yourself, other road users and your loved ones.”
“Don’t think that it can’t happen to you. Families of victims of road trauma, emergency first responders and emergency department personnel know all too well that it can and they know the devastating impact on lives that road trauma has,” Minister Szakacs said.