Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Dealing with driver distraction

Teenage driver distraction will be tackled in an effort to curb road trauma with new funding to make distracted driving uncool.

JENNA BISHOP March 28, 2014 5:08am

Stay focused on roads: Shepparton police First Constables Samara Dove and Michael Ibbott will be out to enforce laws involving distracted drivers.

National insurer AAMI has committed funding to research distracted driving, especially among young people.

It hopes to look at making distracted driving, including using a phone while driving, a social stigma and socially unacceptable.

Shepparton police Crime Prevention Office Leading Senior Constable Glenn Gibson said distraction was the cause of a majority of crashes.

‘‘Distractions can be drugs, both illicit and prescription, speeding, talking on the phone, lack of experience, the list just goes on,’’ he said.

Leading Sen Const Gibson said drivers needed to be responsible for driving to conditions and reduce distractions before they get in the car.

‘‘If you can control the distractions before you get in the car, you increase your chances of not being exposed to road trauma,’’ he said.

AAMI research indicated unsafe use of technology while driving was increasing, despite stricter laws and safety campaigns.

‘‘AAMI believes the key to combat the issue of distracted driving among younger drivers is creating a social stigma around it, much like we have with drunk-drivers. When texting and driving becomes socially unacceptable and uncool, we will start to see a change in behavior within this age group,’’ AAMI spokesman Reuben Aitchison said.

‘‘AAMI’s Crash Index research is showing some terrifying behaviours are on the rise.

‘‘More than half of young Aussie drivers have sent or read a text message while driving and more than a quarter have read emails or surfed the Internet while driving.’’

In November last year, tougher penalties were introduced for illegal use of mobile phones and other units that were not driver’s aids.

Penalties are a $433 fine and the loss of four demerit points.

Learners, P1 and P2 plated drivers must not use a phone at all while driving.

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