The urge to just check that text, or flick over to another podcast could now leave an even larger hole in your wallet.
From February 1st, Queensland drivers who illegally use mobile devices behind the wheel will be hit with the toughest penalties in Australia.
Under the changes drivers will now face a $1000 fine, with demerit points increasing from 3 to 4. If drivers are caught a second time within 12 months double demerit points will apply, with the likelihood of a loss of licence.
Assistant Police Commissioner Mike Keating said that the changes to the penalties is an indication to the community that the Queensland Government is serious about reducing the road trauma statistics around driving whilst distracted.
“It is an important issue that we can all make a contribution to. We all know that we should not be holding a mobile phone while driving a vehicle, or riding a motorcycle or push bike. The easiest thing to do is put that phone in a place where you cannot access it, or where it cannot distract you, and we will all be safer on the roads for it.”
From tomorrow, Queenslanders caught using their phones while driving will be fined $1000. “There’s also a change in relation to riders of bicycles being included in the offence regime from now on.” https://t.co/W11sg36Ifb #7NEWS pic.twitter.com/POF8lU32K5
— 7NEWS Brisbane (@7NewsBrisbane) January 31, 2020
Mark Bailey is the State Transport and Main Roads Minister, and said that Queenslanders had called for action on the 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.”
With a distracted drivers response time similar to that of a drunk driver, Mr Bailey is frustrated that drivers keep reaching for their phone whilst behind the wheel.
“Like drink driving, drivers need to know that a quick text or check of social media when their eyes should be on the road is unacceptable. It’s a deadly habit that needs to stop.”
It’s also worth noting that it is illegal to touch your phone even if you’re stopped at traffic lights, or in congested traffic.
Additionally learner and P1 (red plate) license holders cannot use hands free kits or wireless handsets at all. Riders of bicycles will also face the $1000 fine, but won’t be the subject of demerit points.
In 2018, 33 people died on Queensland roads due to crashes involving distracted drivers and riders. In the same year almost 1500 people were hospitalised from crashes caused by distracted driving.
The RACQ is encouraging drivers to set their phone to Do Not Disturb and then leave it alone. You can set your maps and music and then either swipe up or type in do not disturb in the search bar of your iPhone or Android device. You can also ask Siri, Cortana or Google to do this for you.