Distracted driving

Distracted driving is a huge risk to people riding bikes and other vulnerable road users.


The problem

People take their eyes off the road while driving a car too often

Driving a motor vehicle is a big responsibility and requires full attention.

Unfortunately, there are many ways a driver can have their attention distracted away from the road environment.

One of the most acknowledged distractions for drivers are mobile phones, but they are not the only distraction.

As technology has advanced more devices have made their way into vehicles, either built into the control system or brought in by the driver, and they demand attention.

Other actions that may seem innocuous can be distracting, like eating and drinking, but they can be equally as dangerous.

When someone driving a car at 40kmh takes their eyes off the road for just two seconds, they travel blind for 20 metres. A two second distraction at 100kmh results in 55 metres of blind travel.

We must address distracted driving. If we don’t, the Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics (BITRE) has predicted that road deaths will increase by 14% and serious injuries will increase by 25% by 2030.

Distracted driver

The solution

Developing technology-neutral road rules for driver distraction

Bike riders are in a unique position on the road – we continually pass cars as we ride and we can see into them. Sadly, what we see is more than just driving.

In February 2019 Bicycle Network outlined recommendations to address distracted driving in a submission to the National Transport Commission who are investigating ways to regulate the safe use of technology devices as part of the road rules.

The recommendations were based on responses to a survey about distracted driving from more than 2,000 bike riders who shared their experiences and thoughts.

After assessing responses from the survey it became clear that Australian road rules, regulation and enforcement have not kept pace with the convergence of technology, lifestyles and vehicles.

Bicycle Network’s submission included eight recommendations to address and prevent any activity that diverts the driver’s attention away from the road and puts vulnerable road users at risk.

Bicycle Network's recommendations to address distracted driving
  1. The rapid roll out of hi-tech traffic camera technologies and legal reforms that make it easier for police to enforce distracted driving laws.
  2. A national advertising campaign to highlight the kinds of distracted driving and their consequences.
  3. Higher penalties for distracted driving with consistency across states and territories.
  4. Fast-track in-vehicle mobile phone blocking technologies and its mandated implementation across all new vehicles sold in Australia.
  5. In-built opt-out ‘Do not disturb while driving’ apps automatically activated in all smartphones sold in Australia.
  6. Implement autonomous vehicle technology in all new cars sold in Australia.
  7. Establish a national crash database to track the causes of crashes and the impact of distracted driving.
  8. Research into the motivations of distracted driving with a focus on smartphone use.
Download Bicycle Network's submission

The statistics

  • 35.7 per cent of bike riders see distracted driving every time they ride
  • 97.8 per cent of bike riders have seen someone use a mobile phone while driving
  • 78.9 per cent of riders have been involved in a ‘near-miss’ that they believe was caused by distracted driving
  • 22.2 per cent of riders have been involved in a crash that they believe was caused by distracted driving
  • 56 per cent of riders say that they now choose to ride on roads with less traffic, at times when there is less traffic or in entirely off-road environments because of distracted driving

Distracted driving updates

In the news...

Time to get tough on mobile phone use

Bicycle Network is calling for culpable driving causing death to be the charge for anyone who kills a person while using a mobile phone and...

NSW to crack down on distracted driving in world first

NSW is set to become the first state in the world to roll out roadside cameras that can detect illegal mobile phone use while driving.

‘Donut’ disturb while driving

The Transport Accident Commission (TAC) are giving out free donuts as part of their 'Donut' Disturb While Driving campaign, to make our roads a ‘hole’...

QLD to implement one of world’s highest fines for distracted driving

Queensland drivers caught using their mobile phones while driving could soon be hit with a huge $1000 fine, as Australia cracks down on distracted driving.

Drivers will block texts, not calls

New research shows that drivers may be willing to use phone apps that block the most distractions, but still want to be able to chat...

Phone distraction: less yakking, but more fiddling

A comparative study from 2014 to 2018 found a 57 per cent increase in driver distraction due to manipulating a mobile phone in the hand.

Read more

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