If there was ever any question whether mobile phone use while driving is causing accidents, some new information out of NSW has removed all doubt. According to the NSW Centre for Road Safety, use of mobile devices has overtaken failure to wear seatbelts as one of the top four causes of fatal accidents. This includes texting, talking or surfing the Internet on mobile phones while driving. The other three of the top four causes are speeding, drunk driving and driver fatigue.
According to Marg Prendergast, who is the Centre for Road Safety’s General Manager, the number of times mobile phones are used and caused accidents is more than likely under-reported. Ms Prendergast feels that “people are addicted to their phones” and reminds us all that “No phone call, no message…is worth risking your life or (anyone) else’s.”
Ms Prendergast and the Centre for Road Safety consider it a mission to inform the public of the dangers of using mobile phones while driving and the role they play in fatal accidents
According to numbers provided to the Centre for Road Safety, speeding is present in 42% of all accidents in NSW, but the police and the Government both say that there are no accurate numbers reflecting exactly how many fatalities are caused by speeding.
On a recent Wednesday, police in NSW issued fines for phone use close to 1,000 times and even got one woman twice in the same day. Here, tickets were issued at 11 am and 11:25 am by two different police officers. Representatives for the police say the large amount of tickets proves that people aren’t listening to safety messages concerning the use of mobile phones while driving.
Close to 350 of the tickets were written in the Central Metropolitan Region of Sydney. In NSW, from July 2013 through January of this year, police issued over 20,800 mobile phone infringements.
Professor Mike Regan, who currently teaches at the UNSW Transport and Road Safety Centre, draws interesting conclusions about the number of tickets. First, he thinks that drivers still need further education about the dangers of mobile phones. While Professor Regan believes that drivers are listening to the safety messages, he also thinks that many drivers have just become more savvy at hiding their mobile phone use and not being fined.
Professor Regan calls for further action, such as higher fines and stricter enforcement. He also calls upon auto and mobile phone manufacturers to devise a system which doesn’t allow mobile phones to operate while one is driving a motor vehicle.
Meanwhile, the government of NSW is looking at ways to catch more offenders, such as using cameras.
What This Means to You
We are sharing this NSW information because it is new and there is nothing like it from WA. However, statistics tend to be similar for all states. When a new safety issue like this arises, we feel it is important that everyone knows about it. We hope that anyone reading this article who uses their mobile phone while driving will decide to follow the rules regarding mobile phone use and keep our roads safe.
What are the Laws in WA?
Since March 2011, the law in WA has been clear: your mobile phone must be secured in a bracket or mounting which is affixed to the vehicle. The only exception is a phone that can be operated without touching it. If a driver receives or makes a call while driving and touches the phone, it must be fastened into a mounting.
In addition, it is illegal in WA to send or look at email, a text message or a video message, even if the phone is mounted and able to be operated without touching it. A driver can use the GPS function, but is not allowed to touch the phone while doing so.
Why is Australia so Strict on Mobile Phones While Driving?
According to the WA Office of Road Safety, numerous studies on the use of mobile phones while driving have proven that it can cause many dangerous behaviours, including: impairment of the ability to maintain correct lane position or speed, longer reaction times when faced with emergencies, missed traffic signals or signs, reduced following distance and less “road awareness.”
Any of these lapses of judgment can cause a severe or fatal accident.
Have You Been a Victim of a Mobile Phone Law Violator?
If you have been involved in a collision with someone who was using a mobile phone illegally while driving, you may be entitled to compensation. Call one of our compensation lawyers on (08) 9316 2299 to learn more.