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Driven to distraction – proper reporting needed

As police investigated the role of a mobile phone in a deadly crash at the weekend, the State’s peak motoring body has called for proper data collection to gain an insight into how big a role distraction plays in serious and fatal crashes in Queensland.

man texting whilst driving

Daniel Turner was struck and killed as he worked on his broken-down car in the emergency lane of the M1 on Sunday, with witnesses alleging the driver was looking at a phone moments before the crash.

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RACQ’s Lauren Ritchie said while police still needed to finalise their investigation of the crash, understanding the growing impact of distraction and mobile phone use on road safety was essential in achieving safer outcomes on our roads.

“RACQ lobbied for distraction to be added as a major contributor to crashes in Queensland and that’s why it’s now included in the Fatal Five,” Ms Ritchie said.

“Police tell us it plays a part in roughly 20 percent of crashes across the State but we need to get a system up and running which allows for proper recording of driver distraction in crashes.

“This will help us to accurately see how big a problem phone use poses to road safety, and look to implementing measures to curb the problem.”

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Ms Ritchie said using a mobile phone while driving was particularly dangerous because it tapped into three different categories of distraction.

“There’s visual distraction, where you take your eyes off the road; physical distraction, where your hands are off the wheel; and cognitive distraction, when something takes your mind off driving,” she said.

“If you’re looking at your phone, typing a message and thinking about what you’re going to say next, you’re distracted three-fold.”

Ms Ritchie said while RACQ agreed it was difficult to clamp down on illegal phone use, more effective enforcement was also needed.