Australian drivers are among the most distracted in the world according to a new alarming study.
The first Australian Naturalistic Driving Study observed 400 Victorian and NSW drivers for nearly two million kilometres and found that drivers are distracted for 45 per cent of the time.
According to the research presented at the Australasian Road Safety Conference, a driver was distracted every 96 second by something other than the road ahead of them.
About 36 per cent of distractions – called secondary tasks by the researchers – were relatively quick and took five seconds or less. These included adjusting seatbelts, pressing buttons or interacting with the dashboard.
Reaching for an object (including mobile phones) counted for 8 per cent of distractions. Personal hygiene accounted for 7 per cent of distactions.
While texting or interacting with phones made up 3.5 per cent of distraction, it took 94 second on average each time.
Only 5 per cent of drivers did nothing other than concentrate on the road ahead.
This research is incredibly concerning for people who ride bikes. Driver distraction causes approximately 16 per cent of serious crashes on our roads.
A recent government report highlighted that driver distraction will be a key cause in increasing road fatalities and serious injuries over the next 12 years.
Data trends already show that device use overpowers road safety measures, with fatalities trending upwards from 2016 because of mobile phones.
Back in May, Bicycle Network CEO Craig Richards called for drastic action such as mobile phone blocking technology to stop one-armed drivers using their phones and this disturbing research is further proof.
“As bike riders we can see into cars and what drivers are up to. Every day we despair when we see drivers texting or just mucking around. We understand the addictive lure of the phone but it’s risking people’s lives.”
"It's clear that current policing isn't curbing behaviour. It’s unfair to put the burden on the police. We need to take phone use out of the hands of drivers"
Until now, overall road deaths in Australia have been declining, however Bicycle Network's bike rider fatality report 1998-2017 found that bike deaths have not.
In the past 20 years, the average number of bike rider fatalities in Australia has remained at 37 per year.