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Driving: 78 per cent of you are doing it wrong

By Daniel Gardner, 04 Mar 2020 Car News

distracted driving 2020

A staggering number of Australian drivers admit to ‘multi-tasking’ behind the wheel

If you still use your phone at the wheel or allow yourself to be distracted by something other than the task of safe driving, you’re unfortunately part of a majority among Australian drivers.

An independent study commissioned by comparethemarket.com.au has revealed that a staggering three out of four Australian drivers admitted to multi-tasking while in control of a car.

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The survey asked 1000 Australian drivers if they had attempted to carry out a variety of tasks while either driving or stopped in traffic including the heavily punishable mobile phone use.

See how many of these potentially deadly tasks average Australians admit to doing at the wheel - and if you’re one of them.

Mobile device use in cars

Just 8.0 percent of motorists admitted to using a mobile phone while actually driving, but nearly a quarter said they do pick up their device when stopped at a traffic signal or in stationary traffic.

MORE Mobile use in cars: is it too late to stop it?

Regardless of whether the vehicle is moving or not, holding or touching a phone while in control of a car can land you a hefty fine. Queensland recently pumped its maximum phone fine to $1000 and other states are following suit to cleave four demerit points from your licence, while in New South Wales the offence can now cost up to five, and ten on double-point weekends.

And it's not just the driver who can be busted. Passengers who have been deemed to have distracted the drivers have been fined, as well.

driving and texting

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Back seat distraction

Almost one in ten drivers said they had been distracted by something in the second row of seats while driving, including trying to retrieve an object or to tend to a child. Paying too much attention to adult passengers in the rear seats is another source of distraction.

A far greater number (43 percent) admitted to leaning in the back while stationary. Of those interviewed, some said they removed their seatbelt to allow easier access to the rear seats – which is also punishable by law.

back seat drivers

Eating and drinking

While there is no specific law forbidding consuming food or drink at the wheel, drivers who are deemed to not have proper control of a car or driving without due care and attention can be punished with fines even higher than those for preventing phone use.

Get nabbed in South Australia for eating or drinking at the wheel, for example, and you could be hit with up to $2500 in fines.

Of the 1000 Aussies surveyed, 35 percent said they had eaten while driving, while 40 percent had consumed a drink while driving.

drinking while driving

Personal grooming while driving

The statistics also confirmed a high number of drivers that use the rear-view mirror to check hair and makeup. According to the survey, 15 percent had applied cosmetics while stationary in traffic.

While some of the offences may seem somewhat mild, the study also highlights research by the National Roads and Motorists’ Association, which claims the risk of a collision or near-miss doubles if the driver is distracted from the road for just two seconds.

Read next How to safely use your phone in the car

The distraction study also identifies the highest-risk demographic with drivers in their 30s most likely to be distracted while driving. 48 percent of motorists between the ages of 31 and 40 admitted to eating while driving, and nearly half said they had used a phone while in stationary traffic.

While the law is clear on mobile phone use in cars, the legislation surrounding other distractions while driving is more open to the discretion of the police officer. To avoid getting slapped with a hefty fine for driving without proper attention or even negligent driving, always pay attention to the road and definitely leave that phone alone.

Are you one of the distracted majority? Dob yourself in below!