Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Police call for new laws for drivers who use mobile phones

A high-ranking Victoria Police officer has called for all mobile phone use to be illegal in vehicles.

TRENT HORNEMAN November 7, 2012 4:47am

Mobile phone use while driving is the second most common driving offence for Campaspe Highway Patrol acting sergrant Kris Sutton and his team. A high-ranking Victoria Police officer has called for all mobile phone use to be illegal in vehicles.

Campaspe Highway Patrol officers believe mobile phone infringements are the second most prevalent in the region behind speeding.

Acting sergeant Kris Sutton said mobile phone use had led to two fatal crashes in the region in the past three years.

Earlier this week, a leading traffic cop Inspector David Griffin told the Herald Sun he wanted to see new laws to force drivers to switch off mobile phones in cars.

Regional business owners have warned the proposal could ruin them.

Sgt Sutton said he supported any initiative which could deter drivers from using their mobile phones in vehicles.

‘‘Monash research have done extensive research on this which show that a driver will take their eyes off the road for about three seconds at a time while using a phone. Depending on what speed you are travelling at the time, that could be critical,’’ he said.

‘‘While most of the people we catch are tourists during the busy summer period, that does not mean that locals are exempt from any blame.’’

Sgt Sutton said even Bluetooth or hands-free devices encouraged drivers to take their eyes off the road.

‘‘To answer the phone or to dial with these devices you have to take your eyes off the road,’’ he said.

‘‘Hopefully, as more and more new cars come onto the road and older ones are taken off, there will be more cars fitted with mobile phone technology.’’

Ian Scurrah, owner-operator of Scurton Parcels in Echuca-Moama, receives an average of 15 to 20 phone calls a day while he is on the road making deliveries.

He said he relied on his phone for business and used voice-activated hands-free technology while driving.

‘‘All I have to do is say answer or reject when a call comes in. I do not have to take my hands off the wheel at any stage,’’ he said.

‘‘I am an owner-operator, if these proposed changes come into effect I would have to pay someone to answer my calls. I can’t afford to do that, so I would be out of business.’’

District stock agent and Campaspe Shire councillor Ian Maddison uses his phone for business while on the road. He said he supported a possible tightening of mobile phone laws.

‘‘It will be a massive inconvenience to my business, mobile phones have become a part of our lives but there is no doubt they are a distraction,’’ he said.

‘‘There have been times when I have been travelling and having a conversation and I cannot remember going through a certain spot.

‘‘I am 60 and I have been using a mobile phone for 20 years and it is the way we have become conditioned these days. Perhaps if mobiles were banned in cars we would return to the old days where people on the road organised their days differently.’’

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