Bring distracted while driving is a huge cause of accidents and can be just as dangerous as speeding, drink driving, or driving while tired. When driving, you have a responsibility to keep yourself and other road users safe by giving your full attention on what you’re doing and what’s happening around you. A split-second distraction can have devastating consequences – for you, your loved ones, or other road users.  

Sadly, I have represented hundreds of people over the years whose lives have been permanently changed by the actions of a distracted driver. While there are many things that can distract a driver, the use of mobile phones is a significant cause of distraction. More than half of road users admit to using a mobile phone while driving – despite research showing that it makes you four times more likely to be involved in an accident, and can make your driving as risky as drink driving. The Queensland Government has brought in tough penalties to try and change driver behaviour when using devices behind the wheel.  

You Can Go a Long Way in 2 Seconds

While glancing down at your phone to quickly read a text may seem harmless, consider how far you could travel in those two seconds when you’re not looking at the road:- 

  • If you are travelling 60km/hr and you glance at your phone for two seconds, you will have travelled 33 metres without looking at the road.  
  • If you glance at your phone for 3 seconds while travelling 60km/hr, you will have travelled 50 metres without looking at the road. 
  • Obviously, the faster you’re driving, the further you will travel. At 70km/hr you will travel 39 metres in 2 seconds, and 58 metres in 3 seconds.  
  • The above calculations only consider how far the car will travel while you’re distracted. You will then travel at least another 45 metres in the time it takes for you to react, slam on the breaks, and stop the car.  

 

What could happen in those 2 or 3 seconds while you’re reading a text message? Traffic in front of you may slow down or stop, a child or animal could run out into the road, or a traffic light may change from green to red. The consequences of driving blind for 50 metres could be devastating.  

The Law

In Queensland, it is illegal to be holding or touching your mobile phone while driving. This includes having your phone in your lap – even if it’s switched off, is in flight mode, and/or you’re not using it. The exception to this is if it is secured in a handsfree cradle, and you are only touching it to answer/end a call, change music or access navigation.  

These rules also apply to cyclists.  

P1 drivers, and passengers of learner drivers, however, are also not allowed to use a phone’s speaker function.   

The rules apply even if you are stopped in traffic or at a traffic light. If you want to use your phone out of handsfree mode, you need to be safely parked.  

The Penalties

There are now high resolution enforcement cameras throughout Queensland which use AI technology to detect illegal driver behaviour. If you are found to have used your phone illegally, you can be fined $1,161.00 and have 4 demerit points recorded.  

If you are found to have illegally used your phone within one year of a previous fine for this, you will have double demerit points recorded against your traffic history.  

Tips

We have all thought about picking up our phone while driving – we receive a message or it rings while not connected to Bluetooth – the temptation is difficult to resist. Some tips to avoid this situation are:- 

  • Get your phone set up before you start driving – whether this is in a cradle, using Bluetooth or using Apply Car Play or Android Auto. Choose your music and set your destination, so that you can give the road your full attention.  
  • Set your phone on do not disturb when driving. 
  • Some phones have functions where it will auto- respond to messages while driving, or will only ring if connected to Bluetooth.  
  • Put your phone where you can’t reach it.  

 

Driver distraction causes injuries to thousands of Queenslanders every year. We all have a responsibility to ensure that our fellow road users arrive at their destinations safely.  

If you have been injured in an accident because someone was distracted by their mobile phone, we may be able to help. Contact Gail Blaber for a free no-obligation chat so that you can understand your entitlements.  

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