TOUGH FINES: Drivers dying to answer phones

NO PHONE call, text or Facebook message is worth losing your life.

That is the message being driven home as the Queensland Government pushes to increase the fine for using a mobile phone behind the wheel to $1000.

Drivers could also lose their licence if if caught using their phone behind the wheel a second time.

Maryborough Sergeant Chris Farlow welcomed the tough new penalties being proposed, saying driving while distracted was just as dangerous as drink-driving.

"It should be held in the same importance," he said.

He said while there was a social stigma attached to drink-driving, people were yet to view the danger of distracted driving in the same light, even though the consequences could be just as deadly.

Sgt Farlow said while the fine increase was just being discussed at this stage, it was an initiative that had the full support of the police service.

Transport Minister Mark Bailey said people were killing themselves and others because they couldn't keep their hands off their phones.

"Families and the wider community forever pay the price for that decision to check social media or read a text," he said.

"I think increasing the value of the fine to $1000 for distracted driving and similar offences will deter this dangerous behaviour."

In 2017 alone, 38 people were killed, and 1224 people hospitalised by distracted drivers travelling on Queensland's roads.

Currently Queensland drivers face a $400 fine if caught using their phones while driving.

The State Government said it had been reviewing penalties for a range of driving offences after the deaths of 40 people on Queensland roads over the last two months.

Mr Bailey said research had shown distracted driving was as dangerous as drink-driving.

"People are literally killing themselves and killing others because they can't keep their hands off their phone," Mr Bailey said.

But RACQ spokesman Paul Turner warned increased fines and the threat of a cancelled licence would only go part of the way to changing driver behaviour, warning that many drivers think they can get away with it.



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