Sunday, March 3, 2013

Motoring Mobile Phones Crackdown Herald Sun

P-platers face a massive crackdown on using hands-free mobiles while driving

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MORE than 215,000 Victorian P-platers will be banned from using hands-free mobiles behind the wheel for their full three-year probationary period.
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Fines of over $400 will be slapped on offenders, as the current penalty of a $282 fine and three demerit points is substantially increased.
And every Victorian driver is to be offered a free phone app which stops them receiving calls, texts and tweets. Grieving Vicki Richardson, of Mulwala, today helps launch a TAC campaign focusing on driver distractions.
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Daughter Brooke, 20, died in December when her car hit a tree just moments after she had been texting.
Vicki said: "Please don't be tempted to use your mobile while driving."
Brooke Richardson's car
Brooke Richardson (below right), 20, was killed when her car went off the road while she was texting.
Ms Richardson said: "It's just not worth cutting a life short."
Brooke was a P-plater.
The State Government crackdown follows last year's road safety survey, published in the Herald Sun, which found 89 per cent of Victorians wanted tougher penalties for those using mobiles while driving.
Premier Ted Baillieu said yesterday: "We will toughen penalties for people who are caught using their mobile phone while driving, through a combination of increased fines and demerit points."
The $282 fine is expected to jump by at least half.
Brooke Richardson
Brooke Richardson was killed when her car went off the road as she was texting.
The Transport Accident Commission campaign being launched today warns of the dangers of distractions while driving.
Victoria's 54,958 P1 probationary licence holders are currently banned from using a mobile phone behind the wheel only during their first year.
The ban covers hands-free devices, hand-held phones, and messaging of any kind.
Elli Sumner
The new law will extend that ban to Victoria's 215,349 P2 licence holders applying for the three-year probationary period.
P-plater Elli Sumner, 22, said yesterday the new law would be fair enough for most young drivers.
"But what about the P- platers who need to use a hands-free mobile as part of their jobs? Banning them is too harsh," she said.
"It is their livelihood. Surely an exception should be made?"
Mr Baillieu said yesterday the campaign focusing on mobile phones and other distractions was strongly supported by those who responded to last year's road safety survey.
"Victoria has led the world with our campaigns on drink-driving, drugs and speeding, but little has been done to educate drivers on the dangers of being distracted while driving," he said.
"Phone calls, text messages, music and GPS devices combine to make it more challenging to concentrate.
"It's important all road users understand how quickly inattention can end in disaster," Mr Baillieu said.
Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association spokesman Randal Markey today questioned the new crackdown.
"We have supported bans on mobile use by learners and P1 drivers,'' he said.
"We note the extension of the ban to all P-plate drivers in Victoria and pose the following questions.
“At some stage young drivers have to learn how to cope with distractions, which are a part of life behind the wheel. There are all sorts of distractions - not just mobile phones. Is an extension of the ban running a risk of shielding drivers from gaining experience how to cope with potential risks? Some driving experts have suggested a ban on all mobile use for drivers under 26 years of age. Where should the line be drawn?
"Could this extension of a ban to all P-plate drivers run the risk of forcing some probationary drivers to ignore the ban and try and use their mobiles while driving by hiding them on their laps to avoid detection?
" If so, could such a ban could be counter-productive because this outcome would be more dangerous than the alternative of getting the drivers to comply with the law of using cradles and Bluetooth and using best practice mobile phone technology to reduce driver risks?
"AMTA has produced a new brochure, `Keep your eyes on the road,' to show all drivers how to comply with the law and reduce risks to manageable levels of using legal hands-free mobiles when driving
"It makes very clear that using a legal hands-free kit is not appropriate in all driving circumstances.
"We believe that consumers will modify their behaviour if they understand the risks and have reasonable alternatives.
"We agree that targeting texting, which is dangerous, illegal and unacceptable, is where the focus should be.
"Naturalistic driving studies in the US have shown that texting while driving has a risk factor of up to 23 times greater risk of a crash or near crash than undistracted driving.''
Assistant Treasurer Gordon Rich-Phillips said mobiles were the biggest distraction for drivers.
"In 2011-12 Victoria Police issued more than 55,000 mobile phone infringement notices to drivers. Those aged 20 to 30 were the biggest offenders," he said.
Other distractions include using GPSs, eating, and putting on makeup, he said.

A FREE mobile phone app being developed by VicRoads is designed to reduce driver distraction and will be offered to every Victorian.
When put in Road Mode the app puts a mobile on silent and sends a text message to anyone who tries to call or text that mobile from another mobile telling them the person is driving and will respond when it is safe to do so.
When Road Mode is switched off it provides a summary of missed calls and texts.
Road Mode can work manually or automatically.
If the automatic option is chosen, it uses a mobile's GPS to detect what speed you are travelling.
If you go above 20km/h it will turn on and when you drop below that speed for at least 10 minutes it will turn itself off.
Road Mode will be free to download, however standard text message rates apply each time a new person calls or texts you while your phone is in Road Mode
If the same person texts or calls several times while you are in Road Mode they will only get one automatic text from your mobile.
The kinds of messages that will be on Road Mode include:
"Hi, I can't answer because I'm driving and it's too distracting and dangerous, so I've set my phone to Road Mode.''
"Hi sorry I can't answer. I'm driving so my phone's in Road Mode. I'll get back to you when it's safe to talk.''
"Hi I can't text you back yet. I'm driving and it's too distracting to use my phone, so I've set it to Road Mode.''
"Hi, I'm driving so I can't text back, it's too distracting. My phone is in Road Mode to manage my calls and texts.''
The replies will also direct callers and texters to so they can check the website for details about the free app.
The app will initially only be available for android phones, but work is continuing to extend it to iPhones and other devices.
The android app is expected to be available within two months.
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