Australia's highest penalties put pressure on distracted drivers

The Queensland Government is sending a strong message to drivers who use their phone while driving, introducing the toughest penalties in Australia.

The Palaszczuk Government has announced that drivers caught on their mobile devices will be fined $1000. Demerit points will also be increased from 3 to 4.

If drivers are caught a second time within 12 months, double demerit points will apply and they could lose their licence.

The new laws are set to come in on 1 February 2020.

Transport and Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey acknowledged the penalties were large, but said they were necessary to get the life-saving road safety message through.

“Queenslanders told us they wanted action on this issue.

“Drivers using their phones illegally behind the wheel will pay a high price, but that penalty falls well short of the costs and trauma our community carries for those killed or injured in crashes caused by inattentive drivers.

“A driver’s response time while texting is comparable to that of a driver with a blood alcohol reading of between 0.07 and 0.10.

“Like drink driving, drivers need to know that reaching for the phone to send a quick text or check social media when their eyes should be on the road is unacceptable.

“It’s a deadly habit that needs to stop."

During 2018, 33 people died on Queensland roads because of crashes involving distracted or inattentive drivers or riders.

Over the same period, 1358 people were hospitalised in crashes caused by distracted driving.

Due to difficulties investigators face in determining distraction as the cause of a crash, road safety researchers believe the true number of people being killed or injured in crashes caused by mobile phone use is under-reported.

Unless we take drastic action to intervene and curb distracted driving due to mobile phones, The Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics (BITRE) has predicted that road deaths will increase by 14% and serious injuries will increase by 25% by 2030

Drivers are being encouraged to turn on the ‘Do not disturb while driving' feature that is in built into both Apple and Android smart phones.

Bicycle Network has campaigned to see the feature automatically turned on for all new phones purchased in Australia. 

See the Queensland Government's 'Leave your phone alone' campaign
How to set up Do Not Disturb While Driving

You can let Do Not Disturb While Driving turn on automatically, or add it to Control Center for quick access:

  1. Go to Settings > Control Center, then tap Customize Controls.
  2. Tap  next to Do Not Disturb While Driving.

On an iPhone X or later, you can swipe down from the top-right corner of your screen and tap Do Not Disturb while driving icon to turn the feature on or off. Or on an iPhone 8 or earlier, you can swipe up from the bottom of your screen and tap Do Not Disturb while driving icon to turn the feature on or off.

See the handy step-by-step instructions provided by the Queensland Government.

If you want to quickly enable Do Not Disturb mode, swipe down from the top of your screen to open the notification shade and select the Do Not Disturb icon.

To make changes to your settings, you'll need to long tap on the Do Not Disturb icon to go into the Settings menu.

The Turn On Automatically section allows you to automatically turn Do Not Disturb Mode on and you can also set custom rules in this section - including an option to turn the mode on when the phone detects you're driving. 

See the handy step-by-step instructions provided by the Queensland Government.

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