A man illegally uses his mobile phone while stopped at traffic lights at High Street in Rockhampton.
A man illegally uses his mobile phone while stopped at traffic lights at High Street in Rockhampton. MEGAN LEWIS Ml

Keep your hands on the wheel

IN just an hour at one of Rockhampton’s busiest intersections, at least 15 people were caught using their mobile phones while driving.

As part of a special Morning Bulletin investigation, we took to the streets last Friday, surveying the number of drivers that could be clearly seen using their phones.

Of the approximate 1200 cars to travel in both directions along High Street where it intersects with Musgrave Street between 1pm and 2pm, at least 15 of the drivers were visibly breaking the law.

It’s an alarming figure, which comes as no surprise to police.

Last year, 681 people were fined for using their phones while driving on Rockhampton district roads, almost 250 more than the previous year.

And when it comes to text messaging and driving, it seems the main offenders are young drivers.

Central Region Traffic Co-ordinator Acting Inspector Ewan Findlater yesterday said anecdotally, young drivers were more likely to text message while driving, but motorists of all ages were guilty of using a phone while on the road.

Acting Inspector Findlater said police would continue to combat the growing problem with specifically targeted operations, using static observation, unmarked police cars and motorbike police.

He said it was a common misconception among drivers that it was okay to use a phone while stopped at traffic lights.

“You cannot use any function of a mobile phone while driving unless your car is equipped with a hands-free kit. If the phone is in your hand, you are deemed to be using it, even if you are checking the time or date,” he said.

Acting Inspector Findlater said driver inattention was just as dangerous as the Fatal Four, and could drastically increase the risk of accidents, injury and death on the roads.

“Certainly if you are concentrating on your phone, you are not paying the right amount of attention to your driving.”

Phone Facts
  • Being caught using a mobile phone whilst driving will cost you a $300 fine and three demerit points.
  • The only way to legally use a mobile phone while driving is with the use of a hands-free kit; otherwise, you must pull over and legally park.


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