Disclaimer: This information is general in nature only. While Budget Direct has endeavoured to ensure the information we’ve relied on is accurate and current, we do not guarantee it. Budget Direct accepts no liability for this information.

There are over 1,200 seriously injured motorists on Queensland road each year due to distracted driving, yet 3 in 4 Australian motorists are still multi-tasking while driving.

With all the technology available at our fingertips, it doesn’t take a lot for a driver to become distracted, however, there are a number of ways that can help you stay focused on the road.

See more of Budget Direct’s road-safety guides.

Tips to prevent distracted driving

  • Make sure all passengers are secure before you start driving
  • Limit the number of passengers and pets you carry at any one time, especially if you’re new to driving
  • When travelling with pets in the car dogs should be restrained using a dog seat belt or safety harness and cats should be secured in a robust cat carrier. Pets should always be placed in the back seat to avoid any potential injury from passenger seat airbags
  • Don’t be afraid to ask your passengers to be quiet if you are having difficulty concentrating on the road and avoid taking risks at their request e.g. speeding or breaking road rules
  • Make any adjustments to the seat, mirror, or other areas of the car before you start driving and ensure you are unobstructed and comfortable
  • Avoid eating, drinking, getting dressed/groomed — or anything you would normally do at home —in the car
  • Put your mobile phone on silent and out of reach before setting off. Alternatively, active your phone’s Do Not Disturb While Driving feature
  • Wait until your car is stationary (e.g. at the traffic lights) before changing your music or radio
  • Recognise when you become distracted and attempt to avoid that activity while driving and be alert so you can pull over to the side of the road if anything requires your immediate attention
  • Passengers can help to identify road hazards and other risky situations. They can also help by using their mobile phone to change a song or use a navigation app

Types of distractions while driving

All distractions while driving fall under one of three main categories; cognitive, visual, or physical distractions.

Cognitive distractions cause the driver to lose focus. An example may include talking on the phone or arguing with someone sitting in the back seat.

Visual distractions cause the driver to take their eyes off the road and “drive blind” as a result. An example may include taking a photo or sending a text on a mobile phone.

Physical distractions occur when the driver removes their hands from the steering wheel. An example may include eating, drinking, or using a navigation app.

Not surprisingly mobile phones are the biggest distraction to Australian drivers while on the road. Using a mobile phone while driving can include answering a call, reading, or replying to a text message, changing music, or using a navigation app while driving.

Damage caused by distracted driving

In Australia, the number of accidents caused by distracted drivers is continuing to rise. Since being labelled one of the top four causes of fatal car accidents in 2016, Australians continue to be distracted almost 45% of the time with 14% of all crashes involving a distracted driver. [1]

On February 1st, 2020 Queensland introduced a heavier penalty for motorists who were illegally using their mobile phone while driving. Under the new penalty, drivers would receive a $1,000 fine and 4 demerit points.

Using a mobile phone while driving

According to Budget Direct’s distracted driving survey and statistics, drivers who look at a mobile phone and away from the road for even two seconds can “drive blind” 22 metres in a car moving at 40km/h.  Unfortunately, even with these types of outcomes, many drivers have decided to use their mobile phones anyway.

Our current survey has found that nearly a third of Australians have used their mobile phone while driving in the week that they were surveyed.

Australians have used their phones to check social media, use navigation apps, watch a video or movie, send a text message, take a photo or video, facetime or made a handheld phone call or played a game all while driving.

A previous study on distracted driving by Budget Direct also found that despite 79% of participants saying that road safety was either extremely important or quite important to them they still ended up using their hand-held mobile phone while driving.

Distracted driving fines

Heavier fines and higher demerit points have been introduced across Australia to deter motorists from driving while distracted. 

As of April 2021, the penalty (in each state) for illegally using a mobile phone while driving is:

State

Fine

Demerit Points

Queensland (QLD)

$1,000

4

New South Wales (NSW)

$344

5

Victoria (VIC)

$496

4

Tasmania (TAS)

$336

3

Australian Capital Territory (ACT)

$480

3

South Australia (SA)

$534

3

Western Australia (WA)

$400

3

Northern Territory

$500

3

Latest figures as of April 2021

See more of Budget Direct's road-safety guides.

Sources