Texting, talking, swiping and scrolling – all proof that sometimes the things we love can hurt us the most. Recent studies have shown that drivers can be up to 12 times more likely to crash if they’re texting or browsing on their phone – and that’s not where the distractions end.
Mobile phones are the most common form of distracted driving, increasing your risk of crashing by up to twelve times.
Other in-car distractions like reaching for an object, playing with your GPS, loud mates in the car, or eating can also increase your risk of crashing by nine times.
Taking your eyes off the road for two seconds or more doubles your risk of crashing. At 50kmh you will travel 28m in 2 seconds, oblivious to what’s around you; That’s about the length of a cricket pitch - scary!
What happens if I’m distracted while driving?
Driving while distracted will reduce your awareness of traffic hazards, slow your reaction time, make it harder to control speed and gauge distance, and also make it harder to maintain your position on the road.
Distracted driving could mean that you:
- Have trouble maintaining a consistent speed,
- Drift from your lane or off the road,
- Miss traffic light changes, and find yourself sitting at lights once they are green or driving through a red,
- Miss seeing pedestrians, people on bicycles or motorcycles,
- Miss seeing traffic slowing in front of you, increasing the risk of running into the car in front.
How will I get caught?
There are many ways to be caught using your phone while driving. From unmarked Police cars and bikes to new mobile phone and seatbelt camera technology, you’re bound to be caught sooner or later.
If you’re involved in an accident, Police can check your phone records to see if you were texting, messaging or emailing at the time.
In Victoria, the minimum penalty for using your mobile phone while driving is a $555 fine and 4 demerit points. In some situations this can also result in loss of licence. That’s one expensive message.
How can I limit distractions?
Distractions are all around us and limiting them isn’t always easy. Having said that, here’s a few pointers.
1. Turn on 'Do Not Disturb' before driving.
To turn Do Not Disturb on or off, swipe down from the top of your screen. Then tap Do Not Disturb.
This will let people know you’re on the road and you’ll get back to them later.
Hot tip: you can also personalise your ‘Do Not Disturb’ message to allow calls to still come through from favourites, in case there’s an emergency.
2. Set your GPS or music playlist prior to starting your car and ensure your phone is in an approved holder.
3. If you do need to use your phone, pull over safely or wait until your journey has finished.
4. If you know your mate is on the road, try not to text or call them. If you do need to speak to someone who’s driving, always keep things brief and offer to buzz them back once they get home.
The bottom line
Pick up the phone. Pick up a fine.
The message here is pretty simple; no one is too good to get caught. Anywhere, anytime, anyone – and honestly, it’s a pretty silly and expensive price to pay (even if the group chat is blowing up).