Driver Safety Australia managing director Russell White.
Driver Safety Australia managing director Russell White. Ray Cash

Screen time behind the wheel reaching epidemic proportions

SOCIAL media and an "always connected" obsession are fuelling one of the greatest dangers on our roads.

Driver Safety Australia managing director Russell White said the issue of mobile phone use while driving had reached epidemic proportions.

"We have made so many great in-roads into road safety, this issue now ranks as the highest as it's an addiction for the vast majority of people," he said.

"Pedestrian incidents are on the increase, people are so engrossed they are not situationally aware.

"If they are trying to interface with that screen their eyes could be off the road for several seconds."

Travelling at 100km/h, drivers are travelling the length of an Olympic swimming pool every two seconds.

Mr White said authorities could not afford to "take your foot off the throttle with alcohol, drugs and seat belts", but mobile phone usage while driving needs to be escalated in road safety warnings.

You may face court proceedings

THOSE rolling the dice by using their phones while driving could face a courtroom on more than criminal charges.

Negligent action can also be brought, and drivers could face further examination of their actions.

Shine Lawyers' national special counsel Roger Singh said mobile phones were a "dreadful addiction, one which is causing severe injury and loss of life".

Acting on behalf of Graham Walters, who was left a paraplegic after being struck when riding his bike by a car driven by a distracted woman, he said the use of cameras is a step in the right direction.

"Graham's case is a striking and dreadful example. If these cameras are able to detect usage in a motor vehicle we should definitely see less people taking the risk," Mr Singh said.

"In respect to Graham, out on his bicycle, a fit and healthy individual had a lot to live for, and as a consequence of distraction his whole life has been turned upside down with injuries of significant permanence.

"This a great measure (cameras) and hopefully we will see it rolled out in all states."

Fast facts

- About 76% of Queenslanders admit to using their mobile phone illegally in the car.

- It's illegal to use a handheld mobile phone at any time while driving, unless you are legally parked.

- The average person's time to react to an event is 1.8 seconds. If a driver's eyes are off the road for "just two seconds", it can mean nearly four seconds before reacting to a hazard.