The behaviour of road users has contributed to increasing safety concerns to other drivers. In Queensland, common dangers on the road can be attributed to drink driving, speeding, fatigue and driver distractions. Therefore to improve road safety, caution should be taken while operating a motor vehicle so as to reduce traffic incidents and facilitate safer roads.
In Queensland, driver distraction is a key contributing factor in many vehicle accidents and is estimated to account for approximately one quarter of car crashes. According to RACQ, the most common distractions are:
- Driving while adjusting stereo settings.
- Driving while eating/drinking.
- Driving while using a mobile phone.
- Driving while using the GPS navigation system.
- Driving while smoking.
The Queensland road rules have taken a robust approach in improving driver behavior and road safety. This is because distractions may affect driver
- impairing concentration;
- delaying reaction speeds;
- reducing awareness;
- obstructing control of the vehicle; and
- encouraging risky decisionmaking.
In traffic crashes, the use of a mobile phone is a common cause and accounts for approximately 7% of distraction-related crashes. Despite the recognised danger that mobile phones introduce, it is estimated that 61% of Australian drivers aged between 18 and 24, and 32% of drivers over the age of 25, use their hand-held mobile phone while driving.
Under the Queensland road rules, it is illegal for the driver of a vehicle to use a hand-held mobile phone while the vehicle is moving, or is stationary but not parked. This means that a driver cannot talk, text or use any other function on a hand-held mobile phone while driving. By contrast, a driver is permitted to use a hands-free mobile phone provided they are not a learner driver, P1 provisional licence holder or probationary licence holder under the age of 25 years.
If you are caught using a handheld mobile phone while driving, you may be charged with an offence. This may result in accumulating demerit points, a fine or even losing your licence.
Driving without proper control With the exception of mobile phones, most distractions are not an offence in their own right. However under the road rules, it is an offence if a person fails to have proper control of a motor vehicle while driving. This offence occurs where the driver does an act that may remove or limit their ability to control the vehicle and is common in situations where a driver is using a mobile phone, or simply eating. An example of this occurred in Albany Creek where a man was fined $250 after he was caught eating hotcakes with no hands on the wheel.
If a person is distracted while driving, this may mean that they are driving without due care and attention. This offence is common in circumstances where the driver does not follow the road rules as a consequence of being distracted.
This may include failing to indicate when turning, or crossing double lines. To avoid this, it is important that drivers follow the road rules and concentrate while driving.
Should a driver contravene this offence, the Court may impose a fine, disqualify the driver’s licence, or even sentence the driver to a term of imprisonment.
Tips for safer driving
The safest method of driving is to simply concentrate and avoid using mobile phones and other similar devices until you have stopped driving. If completing a specific action or using a handheld mobile phone is necessary, you should:
- pull over and legally park the vehicle safely;
- respond to any calls or texts after you stop driving;
- plan ahead before you begin driving; or
- ask a passenger to respond, or complete the task on your behalf.
Kendell Bocos has been a Trainee Solicitor with Macrossan & Amiet since January 2014.
Born and raised in Mount Isa, Kendell attended high school at the Good Shepherd Catholic College until year 10. Prior to completing year 10, Kendell relocated to Townsville with his family where he attended The Cathedral School for the remainder of his high school years.
Realising his passion, Kendell went on to study Law at James Cook University. In 2013, Kendell completed his Bachelor of Laws with Honours and has since relocated to Mackay to commence his Traineeship with Macrossan & Amiet.
In his spare time, Kendell enjoys playing golf and relaxing with family.