Queensland has introduced the toughest penalties in Australia for drivers illegally using mobile devices behind the wheel.
From February 1, drivers caught on the phone will be fined $1000 and lose four demerit points.
Those caught a second time within 12 months will see double demerits applied and could lose their licence.
Transport and Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey said the tough new measures were necessary to stamp out distraction.
“We’re getting tough on distracted drivers using mobile phones because it is costing lives on our roads,” Mr Bailey said.
“Thirty-three lives were lost to distraction on Queensland roads in 2018 and more than 1300 people were hospitalised in crashes caused by distracted driving.
“We believe that number was under-reported too, because it’s difficult for investigators to confirm the link between phone use and these crashes.”
Mr Bailey said distracted driving was a deadly driving trend akin to what drink driving was in the 1970s and 1980s.
“A driver’s response time while texting is comparable to that of a driver with a blood alcohol reading of between 0.07 and 0.10,” Mr Bailey said.
“Through random breath testing and huge investments in driver education campaigns, our society agrees drink driving is not on.
“Now it’s time for all of us to send that message loudly and clearly to distracted drivers; don’t reach for the phone to send a quick text or check social media.
“Put the phone in the glovebox or set it to Do Not Disturb so you’re not distracted by it.
“It’s not worth risking your life or the lives of others.”
Mr Bailey said the Palaszczuk Government was also pushing ahead to trial new camera technology being used in NSW that could catch drivers with phones in their hands or laps.
“I’ve seen the technology in action. It works and I have no doubt it will save lives,” Mr Bailey said.
“We’re looking to start trials with this new camera technology in the coming months, so we’ll share more details about that with the community once we have everything in place.
“These cameras are very mobile, so they can be moved around across urban and regional areas.
“I think, like mobile speed cameras, there needs to be that random element so drivers know they could be caught anywhere, anytime.”
New penalties for distracted driving in Queensland came into effect on 1 February 2020.
For more information on distracted driving, visit https://streetsmarts.initiatives.qld.gov.au/driver-distraction/leave-your-phone-alone