WEST Australia has introduced an Australian first in a bid to combat texting and driving by adding five designated ‘texting bays’ along regional highways.
The WA Road Safety Commission has designated five bays along Forest Highway and South Western Highway to encourage drivers to pull over to check their phones.
An initial trial, which ran over the Easter weekend, will run until April 28, and will then be reviewed by the Road Safety Commission to see if it improved road safety.
Texting while driving causes drivers to take their eyes off the roads to look down at their phones, a massive safety risk.
Cars travel 22 metres in just two seconds when travelling at 40km/h, or a frightening 55 metres when travelling at 100km/h.
According to a Deloitte mobile consumer survey conducted in 2015, 42 percent of drivers aged between 18 and 75 had used their mobiles while driving.
Road Safety Commissioner, Kim Papalia, told the ABC that the texting bays were “a siding on the side of the road that gives people the opportunity to get out of the traffic flow, get off the road, to park lawfully and then enable them to respond to what is a compulsion that people often feel in regard to checking their text messages.”
“There is a clear message that the text can wait until it is safe to check it… we do recognise that texting is an issue in this state and we’re taking active steps to see how we can mitigate that.
“This is recognition of behaviour and how you can positively influence better outcomes in terms of behaviour.”
The initiative comes after 2016 saw WA reach a six-year high road toll. One death was recorded on the state’s roads over the Easter long weekend.