Texting kills

Sydney Swans players, Kieren Jack, Sam Reid, Callum Sinclair and Heath Grundy, appear in a funny, new road safety video about texting. The video, Get your hands off it. There’s no excuse., shows younger drivers they must put mobiles right out of sight while driving.

During 2016, police issued 38,894 infringements for all illegal use of mobiles. Statistics show, if you look at your phone for only 2 seconds while driving:

  • you travel 33m blind at 60kmh
  • you travel 56m blind at 100kmh.

Two seconds is a surprisingly long time, given only 20% of glances away from oncoming traffic take more than 1.6 seconds. According to University of Massachusetts research, glances longer than this led to 80% of simulated crashes.

Mobiles distract

In fact, drivers can be distracted by all their senses, but there are four main ways:

  • visual (taking their eyes off the road)
  • auditory (chatting on the phone or to a passenger)
  • biomechanical (adjusting settings)
  • cognitive (lost in thought).

Mobile phone use, especially texting, involves all four types of distraction. For example, sound is very important to hear a text being sent or coming in.

Novice drivers do it

Even so, more than three quarters of P platers in Australia said they used their mobiles while driving. Sadly, vehicle crashes are the main cause of death among 15-29 year olds – and this group uses mobile phones the most.

The global 3500LIVES campaign has also gathered influential celebrities to help promote road safety. Pharrell Williams, for example, supports the “don’t text and drive” message. 3500LIVES refers to the number of people who die on the world’s roads each day.

In NSW, it is illegal for novice drivers to use their mobiles at all while driving, even GPS. All novice drivers should turn notifications off and keep their phones out of sight.

Pedestrians do it

The problem of “distracted walking” is growing, not just in Australia, and authorities in Honolulu have decided to do something about it.

From October 2017, pedestrians who look at their mobile phones while crossing the road in Honolulu face fines of up to $US99. The first offence will be $US15.

Some may think this is going too far. But if you walk down the main street of almost any busy town, it will not be long before you bump into a walking texter. Crossing the road while looking down is as senseless as looking down while driving.

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