Forget the phone, you're driving

IT only takes a split second to lose concentration, but it can mean the difference between life and death.

This is the bleak reality for motorists choosing to risk their lives and the lives of others when they pick up their mobile phone or change a CD while driving.

Colin Goodsell from the RACQ said distraction while behind the wheel was one of the top causes of accidents on Queensland roads aside from the fatal four – speeding, drink driving, seatbelts and fatigue.

In the central police region, CQ regional traffic coordinator acting inspector Dave Stein said police had issued up to 1500 infringement notices to motorists using mobile phones while driving so far for this calendar year.

These infringements include the use of mobile phones while stationary at the lights.

Studies show someone using a mobile phone while operating a vehicle is four times more likely to be involved in a crash.

“The driver’s attention is diverted and their reaction time is significantly reduced,” acting inspector Stein said.

The message from both police and the RACQ is to switch off your mobile phone before you start driving, divert your calls to voicemail or if you urgently have to take a call, pull over in a safe spot.

“Although the fine (for using a mobile phone while driving) is $300 and three demerit points, that pales in comparison to lives lost on the roads due to distraction,” acting inspector Stein said.

“It only takes a split second that could cost your life,” he said.

Mr Goodsell said it wasn’t only mobile phones, but changing CDs and playing with the GPS while driving was distracting drivers on the roads.

He said other major causes of accidents were unsafe vehicle standards, in particular tyres.

“A lot of motorists don’t have sufficient grip on their tyres. You need to have a minimum of 1.5mm of tread across the whole width of the tyre,” he said.

He said regular vehicle checks including a weekly tyre pressure, oil and water check was necessary.

Heading into Christmas, Mr Goodsell said it was important for families to plan their trip well in advance.
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