Tag Archives: driver distraction

Have your say on regulating driver distraction

Technology has outpaced road rules on driver distraction, leaving the current rules inadequate, difficult to police and confusing as they vary between state boundaries.

So, in the wake of a recent national summit on driver distraction, the National Transport Commission is calling for public input to tighten the rules.

Rather than seeking a technological solution, such as some method of switching off mobile phones and other devices when vehicles are in motion, they are investigating non-technological solutions.

The NTC has released a consultation regulation impact statement (RIS) seeking feedback on technology-neutral options to regulate driver distraction. Submissions close on 4 September 2019. Suggested solutions will be presented to state transport ministers in May 2020.

Driver distraction problems

The current national rules date back to 1999, when texting and calling were the most common features of a mobile phone.

Now drivers are updating their social media and even taking selfies while driving!Selfies new scourge of road deathsHave your say on regulating driver distraction

The current rules only preclude or limit the use of specific technology devices – mobile phones, visual display units and television receivers – while permitting their use as driver and rider aids.

However, distraction is not isolated to mobile phones and other portable devices, but also the growth of built-in car screens that include internet connection to apps that can distract drivers.

Another problem with current rules is that they are difficult to police.

One police officer told me they can have difficulty proving that a driver was holding a phone and not using voice commands.

Other problems include the differences between states in rules which allow or prohibit motorists to touch, cradle or hold devices. Motorists are left confused about the legalities of using their devices.

Cops mobile phone penalties day of actionHave your say on regulating driver distraction
Police patrol for mobile phone misuse

Distraction risks

Riders are all too aware of the problems with distracted drivers not looking for motorcycles.

The NTC says distraction is seen as “a significant road safety risk that is not as well understood as other risk factors such as drink-driving and speeding”.

Have your say on regulating driver distraction
Source: National Transport Commission

And while 79% of people agree that talking on a mobile phone while driving is dangerous, 21% still illegally use mobile phones for browsing the internet, taking photos, texting and accessing apps.

Studies have found that a task which takes a driver’s ‘eyes off the road’ for as little as two seconds can be particularly hazardous.

The NTC also cites studies that suggest the young and less experienced drivers as well as older drivers are the biggest problems.

They say young drivers lack driving skills to allow them to execute a secondary non-driving task, while older people find it difficult to share attention between two simultaneous tasks.

In Australia, distraction is a factor in 16% of injury crashes and a 2017 WA preliminary summary found that 28 fatalities (17%) were from inattention-related crashes, up more than 100% on the previous five-year average.

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

Tougher penalties for driver distraction

Tougher penalties for illegal use of mobile phones while driving will be discussed at a three-day Driver Distraction National Summit in Brisbane from Monday (1 July 2019).

If penalties are increased, there should be no complaints from motorcyclists.

Vulnerable motorcycle and scooter riders have long called for tougher penalties for distracted drivers.

They also have a unique perspective to see inside vehicle cabins where they have witnessed drivers not only talking on their phones, but updating their social media profiles and even taking selfies.

Summit crackdown

All state and territory governments will attend the summit which will also investigate a current NSW trial of roadside cameras that catch drivers on their phones.

Last September, NSW increased the penalty for illegally using a mobile phone while driving from four to five demerit points.

Now Queensland is believed to be considering increasing the penalty from $391 to $1000 and loss of licence for a second offence as in Canada.

Motorcycle Council of NSW Chairman Steve Pearce is also calling for mandatory licence suspension for mobile phone abuse.

“The growth of in-car displays is also a concern as they offer additional distraction to drivers in a road and traffic environment which is becoming busier and increasingly unforgiving,” he says.

Mobile phone penalties vary across the nation:Call to double driver phone penalties roundabouts distracted

Fines around the worldVietnam - double mobile phone penalties

Fines vary around the world from no fine in many Asian countries to thousands of dollars and licence suspensions in Canada.

New Zealand has an $80 fine which matches their low fines for speeding. Consequently 3.5% of Kiwi drivers use their phone while driving compared with about 1.5% in Australia.

Almost half (24) of American states have no hand-held phone ban. Some states only issue fines if the driver is in a school zone or committing some other traffic offence such as speeding. Arizona and Montana even allow drivers to text!

The toughest measures in the USA are in California. The state has a $US150 fine (about $A205) for the first offence and more than $US250 (about $A345) for a second violation and one point.

Canada has a distracted driving offence which attracts a $1000 fine and three demerit points. A second conviction could mean a fine of up to $2000 and a seven-day licence suspension. A third offence could mean a fine of up to $3000 and a 30-day suspension.

Fines in Europe vary from less than €50 (about $80) and one point in eastern Europe to €420 (about $A675) in the Netherlands and up to six points in the UK.Mobile Phones

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com