An NRMA report in to the impact of smartphone distractions behind the wheel has found over one-in-five (21%) of drivers have been involved in a near-miss behind the wheel because the other driver was using the phone while driving.
The NRMA report, Can’t talk. Driving, which includes the findings of a survey of 1,037 Members across NSW and the ACT, found that almost one-fifth (19%) of motorists read texts while driving and 18 per cent use their phone illegally.
While almost all drivers (99%) acknowledged it was illegal to use a phone without a hands-free or Bluetooth, 15 per cent believed they would not likely get caught breaking the law.
More than half of people surveyed (55%) are using their phones legally.
Can’t talk. Driving outlines a series of recommendations designed to remove the temptation for motorists to use their phone behind the wheel and supporting the work of NSW Police in cracking down on the illegal behaviour. The report calls for:
The adoption of new technology that discourages illegal use of mobile phones while driving
Improving data collection and analysis around the impact of mobile phone use on crashes that lead to fatalities and injuries
Introducing restrictions on mobile phone use for provisional and learner drivers in the ACT
A review into the effectiveness of the NSW Government’s ‘Get Your Hand Off it’ campaign
NRMA Director Tim Trumper said the NRMA report highlighted that with 41 per cent of people involved in serious casualty crashes where a hand-held phone was a contributing factor under the age of 26, it was clear more needed to be done to keep high-risk groups safe.
“Can’t talk. Driving highlights the risks that distractions are causing on our roads with people twice as likely to have a crash or near crash if they take their eyes off the road for two seconds or more,” Mr Trumper said.
“If you’re using your phone illegally behind the wheel you’ll have slower reaction times, you’ll struggle to maintain control of the car and you’ll be less alert of your surroundings.
“As highlighted by this report, this behaviour is happening all too often and it is leading to an increase in the number of people killed or seriously injured on our roads.
“That’s why the NRMA wants to see new measures taken to reduce the temptation, reduce the risk and help save lives – especially among some of our youngest and most inexperienced drivers.”
The NRMA also found that people who make and receive calls legally while driving do so to:
Let people know where they are or if they’re running late (54%)
Work related (49%)
Contacting family members (46%)
In emergencies (19%)