The proposal, which would see penalties ranging up to 12-month driving ban – was announced just after New South Wales introduced a new law that prohibits probationary drivers from touching their smartphones at all while driving. The AMA’s proposal, delivered as part of its “Position on Road Safety 2018” report, wants to see a similar zero-tolerance policy applied nationally.
“The AMA is particularly concerned about the use of mobile telephones and electronic devices, including navigational devices, in cars,” said AMA president Dr Michael Gannon.
“Mobile phones and other devices are driver distractions, and a major cause of accidents, trauma, and death. The AMA supports measures that change driver behaviour. We want to change the culture and mentality about using mobile devices in cars.”
But is singling out young drivers the right approach, given mobile phone usage while driving is not strictly limited to that demographic? The AMA says its strategy isn’t about penalising Australia’s youth, but about instilling good driving habits from the get-go.
“Good habits must be ingrained in new, inexperienced drivers,” Gannon explained.
“There should be zero tolerance of provisional and learner drivers who use mobile phones or electronic devices, and penalties should include the loss of licence for up to a year.”
But it wasn’t just Australia’s young drivers that came under the AMA’s road safety microscope. The group made a call for a national standard for assessing the driving aptitude of older drivers, saying differing standards between the states and territories was potentially putting the public at risk by allowing drivers who were no longer medically fit to get behind the wheel.
The Association also levelled its sights on pedestrians and cyclists using headphones or earpieces, calling it a “serious safety risk” and identifying it as a factor in motor vehicle accidents.