SAFETY IS YOUR MOST IMPORTANT CALL

The Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government, Anthony Albanese, today joined forces with Australian Automobile Association and the Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association to urge drivers not to use illegal hand-held phones while driving and exercise caution when making hands-free calls.

The “Safety is Your Most Important Call” message aims to make drivers think before using their mobile phone this holiday season, especially when traffic is heavy or road conditions are unsafe.

“Using a mobile phone while driving is a distraction, and the illegal use of hand-held mobile phones is very dangerous,” Mr Albanese said.

Mr Albanese said that research funded by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau had shown that people aged between 17 and 25 were the most frequent users of mobile phones while driving.

“I can only say to these young people - don’t. Using a mobile phone while behind the wheel is a dangerous distraction. It can – and often does – cause an accident,” Mr Albanese said.

The Minister, the AAA and the AMTA called on all drivers this holiday season to plan their car trip, and make sure to avoid driver distractions such as making illegal hand-held mobile phone calls when on the road.

Drivers can take a number of steps to reduce the risk of distraction from mobile phones. They include:

Never text message when driving. This is illegal and extremely dangerous – studies show drivers’ eyes are off the road for 12 seconds each 30 seconds when sending or reading text messages while driving.

Whenever possible, plan your trip with stopovers and try to make calls when stationary or during rest breaks on long trips.

If you have to take a call on a legal hands-free phone, always tell the person you are speaking to that you are driving. This lets them know that you may not respond immediately and reminds you that driving is your first priority.

If a call becomes complex or emotional, tell the person you are speaking to that you are driving and suspend the call. Driving and complex conversations on a hands-free phone, or with other passengers, just do not mix.

If a call is unnecessary, or you consider it unsafe to answer at the time, do not answer it and let it divert to voicemail or an answering service.

If you choose to stop to answer and make calls or retrieve a message, pull over carefully in a safe area. Don’t stop where you could be a hazard to over vehicles, pedestrians or yourself.

“Holidays, and the Christmas/New Year holiday in particular, see millions of Australians on the road with a consequent spike in accidents, injury and fatalities,” AMTA CEO, Chris Althaus, and AAA Executive Director, Mike Harris, said.

“Drivers must realise their responsibilities on the road at this time of year and make sure they drive to the conditions and avoid distractions such as using mobile phones – too many Australians are injured and killed on the roads in accidents that should not occur.”

AMTA’s driver safety tips can be found at www.amta.org.au

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Contact: Antony Sachs Minister’s Office 0417 493 485

Randal Markey AMTA 0421 240 550

Allan Yates AAA 0421 150 229