In Law & Order

Western Australia Minister for Police and Road Safety Rob Johnson

New Campaign Targets WA’s Distracted Drivers

Victor P Taffa

Western Australia Minister for Police and Road Safety Rob Johnson has launched a new campaign targeting driver distraction, which plays a part in nearly one-third of all road crash deaths and serious injuries on Western Australian roads.

Mr. Johnson said the $900,000 campaign would use television, radio and outdoor media to alert motorists to the dangers of driver distraction.

“The campaign uses different distracting scenarios that drivers routinely engage in and shows the potentially devastating consequences that all too frequently happen on our roads.” the Minister said.

“World road safety experts regard driver distraction as a significant contributing factor to road trauma alongside speeding, drink driving and fatigue.”

 

“Recent research by the Monash University Accident Research Centre revealed that distraction plays a role in 32 % of all WA road crash deaths and serious injuries.” Mr. Johnson said.

“Driving a motor vehicle is a complex task requiring a considerable degree of concentration and attention from the driver.  It is alarming that so many motorists are increasingly dividing their concentration between driving and non-driving tasks.”

“Common distractions while behind the wheel include reading a street directory; entering an address into a GPS unit; changing a CD or a song on an MP3 player; eating; having an unrestrained pet; activity from passengers in the vehicle; and of course – the most frequent contributor of distraction using a mobile phone.”

The Minister said a 2009 survey of West Australians showed that mobile phone use was considered by the community to be the single biggest distraction in a vehicle.

The survey showed that 90 % of people regarded text messaging as a major distraction, while 82 % said making or receiving phone calls was also a danger for motorists.

“You are four times more likely to be involved in a crash when using a mobile phone while driving and sending a text message is even more distracting.” Mr Johnson said.

“The best advice for drivers is to turn off your mobile phone or put it on silent when driving to avoid being distracted.”

“If you must take a call while driving, pull over into a safe, designated, legal parking space before using your phone, not only for your own safety, but for the safety of other innocent road users.” Mr. Johnson said.

Using a hand-held mobile phone while driving is illegal behaviour in WA and attracts a $250 fine and three demerit points.

Independent chair of the Road Safety Council, D’Arcy Holman, said while some level of distraction when driving a motor vehicle was unavoidable, there were a number of simple things drivers could do to manage and reduce the level of distractions.

“Planning ahead is a great way to minimise driver distraction.  If you are unfamiliar with a route, check the map before you go or have a passenger navigate; ensure your pet is restrained properly using a secured carrier box or pet seat belt system; adjust the mirrors and CD/MP3/radio before setting off;  and take a break rather than eat, drink, smoke or groom yourself while driving.” Professor Holman said.

“Recognise what makes you distracted and either avoids engaging in that activity when driving, or find a safe, legal place to pull over and do it, for the safety of everyone on our roads.”

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