Admit it: you’ve made a non-hands-free phone call while driving, at least checked your emails and texts while waiting at the lights. If you have you’re not alone, with the Centre for Accident Research and Road Safety – Qld stating that distraction has been identified as a contributing factor in 22% of car crashes and near crashes. That’s a significant statistic!
As a driver you need to look after not just your safety, but the lives of those around you. The Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association (ATMA) has offered the following five key safety tips to reduce your risk of accident and comply with the law.
Keep it cradled
According to ATMA, the single most effective action drivers can take to reduce risk is to put their mobile phone in a cradle. They can also use Bluetooth or hands-free technology, single-button or voice-activated calling so they can keep their eyes on the road ahead.
That said, having it cradled still doesn’t mean that it’s always safe to use it. “Hands-free mobile phone use in cars is legal in all Australian States and Territories,” said AMTA Chief Executive Officer, Chris Althaus. “However, this does not mean it’s appropriate for drivers to use them at all times. If a call is unnecessary or you consider it unsafe at the time, don’t answer the call. Let it divert to voicemail or an answering service.”
Apart from being very dangerous, it’s also illegal. And really – is any message that you’re sending by text that important that it’s worth risking a life for? If you answer anything other than “no” to that question, then you really shouldn’t have a mobile phone – or perhaps a driving license – at all.
Just as you (have probably been told at some point) that you shouldn’t write anything that you wouldn’t want your mother to read, you really shouldn’t text anything while driving that you wouldn’t want to read out in court. Just don’t text while driving.
Always keep your eyes on the road
It’s self-evident that keeping your eyes on the road is critical in reducing driving risks from mobile phone use. Talking and listening are not too dangerous on mobiles in light traffic and good driving conditions, but taking your eyes off the road to dial or answer is risky.
Use your smartphone’s features
Smartphones provide voice-activated dialling and automatic answering features to reduce the effort of making and receiving a call and allow drivers’ eyes to remain on the road at all times. You can install apps that limit a phone to calling and voice activation. Smart drivers use their handsets’ technology to reduce driving distractions.
Don’t always answer your mobile
Hands-free mobile phone use in cars is legal in all Australian States and Territories – but you can reserve the right not to answer your mobile phone. It can be quite a relief in today’s 24/7 connected world!
“Drivers should not make calls in heavy traffic, at intersections or in bad weather or poor road conditions,” said Mr Althaus.” If a call is unnecessary or you consider it unsafe to answer at the time, don’t answer the call. Let it divert to voicemail or an answering service.”
According to the Centre for Accident Research and Road Safety – Qld, between 39% and 73% of Australian drivers report using a hand-held mobile phone at some time while driving. A recent QUT survey of nearly 800 Queensland drivers found that 25% of drivers reported using their mobile phone to answer calls on a daily basis, 20% of drivers reported doing so to make a call, 27% to read a text message and 14% to send a text message.
Really – when you stop to think about it – were any of those calls or texts that important?
The Australian mobile phone industry has set up a website to encourage safe, responsible and legal mobile phone use while driving. So visit Keep your Eyes on the Road for more information.