Don't Drive To Distraction – Text Before You Drive

It’s a novel variation of look before you leap – text before you drive…..

That’s the Christmas road safety message from the Federal Government, the Australian Automobile Association and the Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association in the run up to the Christmas holidays.

The Federal Government has joined with Australia’s peak motoring and mobile telephone groups to urge drivers to get the message and not text on their mobile phones while driving during the Christmas holiday period.

A recent Australian study found that more than 10 per cent of drivers – and up to a third of young drivers - have written and sent text messages while driving. The George Institute study found some respondents did not even know that text messaging while driving was even illegal.

Transport Minister Mark Vaile, AMTA Chief Executive Chris Althaus and A/g AAA Executive Director John Metcalfe called for drivers to realise the facts shown in the NRMA study and the potential danger in trying to text while driving.

The Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Transport and Regional Services, Mark Vaile, said the Christmas holidays were a time when all motorists and road users needed to be particularly careful on the roads and avoid any kind of distractions such as text messaging when driving.

“It is an extremely dangerous practice and puts others on the road at risk - so do the right thing and text before you get behind the wheel,” Mr Vaile said.

AMTA CEO Chris Althaus said it was disturbing that some respondents to the George Institute survey did not even know that texting while driving is against the law.

“Research undertaken on behalf of the NRMA found that young people took their eyes off the road for approximately 10% of the time. However, this figure increased to 40% when young drivers were both retrieving and sending text messages,” Mr Althaus said.

“This means that a driver could spend 12 seconds of each 30 seconds text messaging with their eyes off the road. When using a mobile phone while driving, safety is the most important call you can make.

Mr Metcalfe highlighted the high level of death and trauma on Australian roads and urged greater care and concentration when driving.

“Five Australians die every day on Australian roads and 61 people are seriously injured – that is at cost to the economy of an estimated $17 billion a year or almost $50 million a day,” Mr Metcalfe said.

“The research shows that mobile phones are a real driver distraction and drivers of whatever age should be aware of the potential for crashes by being distracted when on their mobiles.”

All drivers can make safety their first priority following AMTA’s consumer driving tips at www.amta.org.au

* * * * * * *

Contact: Allan Yates AAA 0421 150 229

Randal Markey AMTA 0421 240 550