Bigger fines for people using their phones while driving or riding come into effect from tomorrow in Queensland, with the maximum penalty set to become the biggest in the country for distracted drivers.
Incur the maximum fine and you’ll be slugged $1000 and see four demerit points cleaved off your licence. The previous fine was $400 per offence.
It’s a harsh penalty given South Australia had the previous highest fine at $534 per offence, but it’s a move the Queensland Police say has become necessary to discourage what they see is a rising problem of distracted driving.
According to Queensland Police, around 25 people die on the state’s roads per year in accidents where distraction is a contributing factor. On top of that, 1300 people become hospitalised in Queensland every year in distracted-driving accidents.
“People are literally killing themselves and killing others because they can’t keep their hands off their phone,” said Queensland Transport Minister Mark Bailey last year, when the increase in phone penalties was first tabled.
“Governments across Australia introduced random breath testing, increased penalties, and slashed the legal blood alcohol limit. While some complained at the time, these reforms saved thousands of lives, with the road toll falling from 638 in 1973 to 245 last year.”
Double-demerits apply for drivers committing a second offence within 12 months of their first, along with another $1000 fine. That means you could lose your licence AND two grand just for touching you phone a grand total of two times while behind the wheel.
What’s more, the penalty applies to other road users, with motorcyclists, scooter riders and cyclists all facing the same penalty for using phones while on the road.