Mobile phone addicts face tough penalties



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Starting tomorrow, Queensland motorists will need to curb their addiction to their mobile phones, or face some of the toughest penalties in the country, according to the RACQ.

Under new laws, motorists caught in Queensland using handheld mobile phones while driving would be fined $1,000 and receive four demerit points.

If caught twice in 12 months they would face double demerit points and a further $1,000 fine.

RACQ spokesperson Renee Smith said driver distraction was the fastest growing problem on the roads and drastic times called for drastic measures.

“We believe in education over penalties, but the reality is we now need a harsh deterrent to change the behaviour of motorists who are risking lives every single day,” Ms Smith said. 

“Queenslanders are not only texting behind the wheel but using social media sites and functions such as FaceTime and it’s downright frightening and it must stop.

“Research shows if you use your phone when driving, you’re just as dangerous as a drunk driver and you’re four times more likely to be involved in a crash.”

Ms Smith said new camera technology would also be trialled later this year to catch drivers using mobile phones, a move the Club had for years been calling for.

“These cameras are already being used in New South Wales and are showing promising results,” she said. 

“It’s always been difficult to catch people out on their phones, but these new cameras will make it very tough for motorists doing the wrong thing to hide.

“Enforcement is critical, tougher penalties will only work if motorists think there is a good chance they will be caught.”

Ms Smith said RACQ wanted all drivers to commit to setting their phone to Do Not Disturb before setting off on the road.

“We understand drivers need their phones for some functions like maps and music and our message to them before they get behind the wheel is, ‘set your phone, then leave it alone’.”

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