A new report from the NRMA has found that one in five motorists have been involved in near-misses where the other driver was using a mobile phone at the same time.
The Can’t talk. Driving. report, which surveyed NRMA members in NSW and the ACT, found that only a little more than half (55%) of drivers say they use their phones legally. This is similar to a TAC report from Victoria in 2015 that showed 56% of drivers use a phone illegally.
It is concerning news for bike riders and other road users, but unfortunately maybe not surprising with bike riders often reporting that they see many motorists driving and using their phone at the same time.
The risk of using a mobile phone while driving cannot be understated. Distracted driving is a major factor in many crashes and it takes just seconds of inattention looking at a screen to cause a crash.
If a driver travelling at 40kmh takes their eyes off the road for just two seconds – barely the amount of time it would take just to unlock a smartphone – they would travel blind for 20 metres. A two second distraction at 100kmh would result in 55 metres of blind travel.
Highlighting just how dangerous short distractions can be, the TAC launched a campaign in 2013 including a video with two-second distractions caused by a mobile phone.
Outlined in the report are a number of recommendations by the NRMA to address the use of mobile phones by drivers and reduce crash risks, including:
- Improved crash data and better methods of identifying the exact role mobile phone and device use play in serious crashes
- Review of legislation and increased enforcement
- Research and adoption of in-car technology to mitigate mobile phone use
The recommendations are in line with many of Bicycle Network’s policies and campaigns to improve road safety and encourage bike riding, especially improved crash data and statistics and a safe systems approach that includes autonomous technology in cars.
With in-car distractions more prevalent than ever it is clear that we need to fast track the development of technology that can override unsafe decisions by drivers and minimise the risk of crashes.
Why would anyone be so foolish to use a mobile phone while driving?