- Drivers caught using mobile phones could soon face much harsher penalties
- Nationwide crackdown comes in response to a sharp increase in the road toll
- Government considering ‘technology-based solutions’ to stop drivers texting
- National road toll rose seven per cent during the 12 months ending January 2017
Drivers caught using their mobile phones could soon face much harsher penalties and may be forced to install technology which disables text messaging.
The looming nationwide crackdown comes in response to a sharp increase in the national road toll after 20 years of gradual decline.
Federal Transport Minister Darren Chester believes mobile phone distraction is a contributing factor in the rise and said the government was considering drastic action in a bid to save lives.
Drivers caught using their mobile phones could soon face much harsher penalties as part of a nationwide crackdown (stock image)
‘Police who have spoken to me have indicated they are seeing increasing use of phones as a potential cause of crashes but they don’t know the full extent of the problem at this stage,’ he said, according to The Mercury.
‘I think it is a combination of increasing driver and passenger awareness of the dangers through advertising and education campaigns, along with enforcement measures and assessing any technology-based solutions to prevent drivers from sending or receiving text messages while the vehicle is in motion,’ he said.
During the 12 months ending January 2017, there were 1,290 road deaths across the country, according to government figures.
This is a seven per cent increase compared to the total for the 12-month period ending January 2016.
According to research by the Australian Automobile Association, 79 per cent of drivers believe mobile phones are the major cause of fatalities on the road, followed by speeding and driving while drunk or on drugs.
The looming nationwide crackdown comes in response to a sharp increase in the national road (stock)
The Tasmanian government has already flagged the idea of implementing ‘technology-based solutions’ and is moving to increase fines for using a phone behind the wheel, which currently stands at $300.
Nearly 20 per cent of young people in that state admit to illegally using their phones while driving, according to recent study by the Royal Automobile Club of Tasmania.
RACT Insurance CEO Trent Sayer said younger drivers are at greatest risk because they haven’t developed the skills to handle complex traffic situations.
Federal Transport Minister Darren Chester said the government was considering drastic action in a bid to save lives on the road (stock)
‘This can lead to situations like driving too fast for the conditions, following too closely behind other vehicles or running red lights,’ Mr Sayers said.
‘When you pair inexperienced drivers with driver distraction such as attempting to read a text message, sending a Snapchat, or checking social media, you’ve got a recipe for disaster.
‘The evidence is overwhelming, using a phone while driving is not only dangerous, but potentially deadly.’
During the 12 months ending January 2017, there were 1,290 road deaths across the country (stock)
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