Mobile phones in motor vehicles could be banned altogether, while motorists caught texting could face a three year jail ban and a $700 fine, similar to what happens in some US states.A new Infrastructure and Transport report which SmartHouse alluded to last week reveals that Police forces around Australia are pushing for the introduction of tough new laws with a total ban on all mobile phone use in vehicles now being considered.
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|NSW Police appear to be above the law despite no special training.|
The draft report said ”There is evidence to support bans on all mobile phone use while driving.”
The federal parliamentary secretary for infrastructure and transport, Catherine King, said on average 1500 people died on Australian roads each year.
Among the first groups to be targeted by the proposed changes in the law are taxi drivers and commercial drivers, however there is no mention as to why NSW Police Officers are allowed to use a mobile while driving when commercial drivers face prosecution.
When Smarthouse recently queried as to why NSW Police officers were not prosecuted for using a mobile phone while driving we were told “because it is legal for a police officer to use a phone” . When we asked whether they used a mobile phone during high speed pursuits we were told “no comment”.
Catherine King told the Fairfax Media recently: ”We’ve come to the conclusion that we are going to have to do things differently if we are going to get that road toll lower,” she said.
Ms King said that it would be difficult for many people to stop using hands-free phones so the first step of the strategy would be to encourage drivers of heavy vehicles, buses, taxis and government cars to stop using the phone hands-free voluntarily.
Between June 2009 and July 2010, 50,000 drivers were fined more than $11 million for calling, texting, reaching, even touching their phone while driving.
A recent NSW Police report reveals that up to 30% of accidents in NSW may have involved the use of a mobile phone seconds before the accident.
”There is evidence to support bans on all mobile phone use while driving.” King said.
In the US state of Utah, a driver caught texting can receive a three-month jail sentence and a $US750 fine. If they injure or kill someone they could go to jail for 15 years.
Fairfax Media reported that Mark Stevenson, an epidemiologist who studies driving distractions, said allowing hands-free phone use to remain legal sent the wrong message.
A recent survey in Victoria revealed that 60 per cent of people who owned a mobile phone admit using it while driving.