DRIVERS are offering stupid excuses for using their mobile phone ‚ÄĒ including that they do it out of habit, boredom and to save time ‚ÄĒ to justify why they flirt with danger, according to a new survey.
The RAC distraction survey of 840 WA drivers included the top 10 excuses drivers gave for being attached to their phones on our roads, with the No.1 reason being that they use their smartphone for GPS directions.
Other excuses included people feeling they needed to be contactable at all times and to keep in touch with family and friends, drivers confident they could ‚Äúhandle multitasking while driving‚ÄĚ, to avoid falling behind at work and the temptation of notifications being too hard to ignore.
RAC executive manager advocacy and members Patrick Walker called on drivers to put their phones out of reach while driving, turn it off or switch to do not disturb while driving.
‚ÄúThere are far too many blindfolded drivers on our roads paying too much attention to their phones and too little attention to the road,‚ÄĚ he said. ‚ÄúThere‚Äôs no message, phone call or email so urgent it‚Äôs worth killing or seriously injuring yourself or someone else. It only takes a split second for a life to be changed forever, so it‚Äôs critical motorists ditch the distraction and look up when they‚Äôre driving.‚ÄĚ
The RAC survey, which has prompted its new Look Up road safety campaign, found an alarming 80 per cent of West Australians use their phones while driving, despite 90 per cent being aware of the risks. Twenty-eight people were killed on the roads last year in inattention-related crashes, a 112 per cent jump on the previous five-year average.
Perth man Symon Still knows better than anyone the lifelong damage inattention on the roads can cause ‚ÄĒ in 1994 he was struck by a distracted driver at a Mandurah intersection while he was cycling.
The accident left him a partial tetraplegic ‚ÄĒ he has no feeling below mid-waist and cannot feel his hands or his right arm.
Life as he knew it ‚ÄĒ as a physical education teacher and triathlete ‚ÄĒ was over. Now, Mr Still works for Paraplegic Benefit Fund, which recruits survivors of traumatic accidents to share their stories.
The 49-year-old father of two said everyone made mistakes, but challenged drivers to make a personal pledge to to do better and be responsible behind the wheel.
‚ÄúI‚Äôm still living with the consequences of 24 years ago … I had all these dreams and they were shattered,‚ÄĚ Mr Still said. ‚ÄúI‚Äôm still a bit sad because I think about the life that I would have had, had it not been for that two seconds of inattention behind the wheel.
‚ÄúPeople should try and put themselves in these shoes and think about what impact it would have on your ability to earn money, to have a family, fulfil your dreams in life … life is very different in a wheelchair and I wouldn‚Äôt want anybody to have to experience this.‚ÄĚ
Police and Road Safety Minister Michelle Roberts has previously flagged she is considering a NSW model to slap drivers caught on their phones with a five-demerit point penalty. Existing penalties are a $400 fine and three demerit points.