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Distracted driving is becoming a growing threat to road safety in New Zealand with our cellphone the main culprit, and if you think an $80 fine is stiff, Police in Queensland are planning to fine drivers A$1000 for using their phones.
In Queensland the penalty is currently A$400, but plans are to more than double that, while ACT has the highest penalty of A$577.
In NSW, offenders are penalised five demerit points with a A$337 fine and during Christmas you get hit with 10 demerit points. In Victoria, the penalties are four demerit points and a A$484 fine.
Why the big penalties?
Those who use a mobile phone, whether hand-held or hands-free when driving:
- become disoriented and not aware of road conditions
- miss road signs
- may not be able to manage proper lane position and a safe speed
- respond more slowly, take longer to brake and longer to stop
- are more prone to enter risky gaps in traffic
- are more prone to 'tailgate' the vehicle in front
- become more stressed and discouraged
From 1 November 2009 it became illegal for drivers to use a hand-held mobile phone while driving in New Zealand, including making, receiving or terminating a phone call. You can’t text either nor create a video message.
Drivers using mobiles are four times more likely to be involved in a crash and the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) has the statistics to back up those numbers.
In 2018, driver distraction was a contributing factor in 12 fatal crashes, 155 serious injury crashes and 956 minor injury crashes.
According to the Automobile Association, (AA) research has shown that driving while talking on a hand-held mobile can be as dangerous as driving at the legal blood/alcohol limit - and it can increase the risk of being involved in a crash by 400 per cent.