Mobile bill shock has taken on new meaning in the Sunshine State.
On 1 February 2020, the Queensland Government increased the penalty for illegally using a mobile phone while driving.
The penalty is now a head-turning $1,000 and four demerit points. (Previously, it was $400 and three demerit points.)
If you get caught twice within a 12-month period, you’ll receive double demerit points and could lose your licence. (The situation for learners and P-platers is even more precarious.)
In Queensland, handling your phone while driving — even to turn it on or off, if you’ve stopped in traffic — is illegal. The increased penalty is apparently intended to better reflect the severity of the infringement.
Research shows a driver’s response time while texting is comparable to that of a driver with a blood alcohol content of between 0.07 and 0.10.
In 2018, crashes in Queensland involving distracted or inattentive drivers or riders killed 33 people and hospitalised 1358.
Reaching for the phone to send a quick text or check social media when [your] eyes should be on the road is unacceptable. It’s a deadly habit that needs to stop.
— Queensland’s Minister for Transport and Main Roads Mark Bailey.
Sneakiness will be less effective in future. Phone-detection cameras recently introduced in New South Wales are likely to be adopted by other states and territories.
Learners and P-platers
Queensland’s heavier mobile-phone penalty means a learner-driver or P-plater could have their licence suspended for just once offence.
The penalty applies to learner and P1 provisional drivers under 25 even if they’re using hands-free, wireless headsets or their mobile phone’s loudspeaker function.
Find out more about Queensland’s mobile-phone restrictions.
Heavy fines biggest deterrent: Survey
Based on a survey of 1000 Australians commissioned by Budget Direct, Queensland’s heavier penalties are likely to prove reasonably effective.
We asked survey respondents which of a handful of deterrents would be most likely to stop them from texting while driving.
The leading answer was a fine of $1,000 or more (28.1%). This was followed by peer pressure from passengers (21.6%), demerit points (18.9%), and a fine of less than $1,000 (13.6%). The balance of respondents (17.8%) said nothing would deter them.
How to stop your phone distracting you
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