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The ongoing battle against mobile devices and driver distraction

As part of the ongoing mission to reduce driver distraction and make New South Wales’ streets a safer place for all road users, Transport for NSW has launched a new campaign to focus attention on the dangers of mobile phone use behind the wheel.

Earlier this month Minister for Roads Duncan Gay announced the new ‘Don’t Drive Blind, Get Your Hand Off It’ ad campaign in an October 12 media release.

“The key message we’re spreading is that if you look away from the road to read or touch your phone, even for two seconds, you’re driving blind,” said Mr Gay.

The 30 second television advert depicts two young drivers, who look away from the road to check their phone and send a text message. The TV spot then depicts the second driver, a young woman, with a blindfold over her eyes as she approaches an intersection where the traffic lights have turned red.

Combating the risks of mobile device use behind the wheel

The take away message is a visual demonstration of the fact that at a speed of 60 kilometres per hour, a driver will travel 33 metres in the two seconds they take their eyes from the road to check their phone.

“No Tweet, selfie, Facebook friend request or SMS is more important than concentrating on the road and protecting yours or someone else’s life,” emphasises Mr Gay. “We need drivers to understand that such a short lapse of concentration can have significant and devastating consequences.”

The ‘Don’t Drive Blind, Get Your Hand Off It’ campaign is a follow up to the original ‘Get Your Hand Off It’ ad released back in 2013, which Transport for NSW believed was successful in raising drivers’ awareness of the risks of mobile phone use while driving.

The current ad campaign follows a staggering 35,000 fines issued in 2014 by the NSW Police Force for illegal mobile phone use.

“Sadly, there have been a number of instances where mobile phone use has been attributed to fatal and serious injury crashes on our roads.” Traffic and Highway Patrol commander John Hartley told the Daily Telegraph.

“Taking your eyes off the road even for a split second could mean the difference between life and death for you and other road users.”

Targeting young drivers

According to Transport for NSW, while the warning message is applicable to all drivers, the recently released ad campaign is aimed at a similar target audience as the original – namely younger drivers from the ages of 17-39.

In addition, the message is particularly poignant, given the recent hike in pedestrian fatalities on NSW roads.

“We’ve had a 50 per cent increase in pedestrian fatalities this year compared to the same time last year,” said Acting Executive Director Centre for Road Safety Bernard Carlon.

“As the weather warms up we’ll also have many more people outside enjoying the sun, so if you’re behind the wheel, be extra careful around high pedestrian areas like shopping centres, restaurants and clubs.”

Mr Carlon cautioned drivers to watch out for pedestrians, as they “come off second best” in a crash situation.

Following the rules

If you are caught using your mobile device illegally, you will be fined and you will receive demerit points. Should your mobile phone usage cause a collision, you may also find the price of your CTP insurance goes up. For more information about CTP green slip prices, consult our green slip calculator.

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