Insurer RACQ has launched its Christmas road safety campaign in a bid to tackle driver distraction this festive season.
RACQ urges drivers to “set your phone, leave it alone” this holiday period, as the insurer noted that December is the highest risk time for crashes, with driver distraction tagged as the leading cause of fatalities in Queensland.
“Last year 13 people lost their lives during the festive period, the worst Christmas road toll in a decade,” said Renee Smith, RACQ spokesperson. “Every death on our roads is not only tragic but avoidable, particularly when it comes to driver distraction and our addiction to using mobile phones while behind the wheel. The reality is you are four times more likely to have a crash when using your phone while driving. There are three different types of distraction – cognitive, physical and visual – and using a phone encompasses all of these. Your mind is off the task, your hands are off the wheel and your eyes are off the road.”
The Queensland government recently announced that that it would increase the penalty for a motorist caught using their phone behind the wheel from $391 to $1,000.
RACQ, meanwhile, teamed up with the Motor Accident Insurance Commission to educate drivers about the risks of distraction and to encourage them to switch their phones to “Do Not Disturb” before getting behind the wheel.
“It’s a simple function already built into most phones which combats our temptation to touch our device and ultimately removes that distraction from the task of driving,” Smith said. “We recognise motorists still want to use their phone for functions like music and navigation, so we’re asking them to take a couple of minutes to set up their phone then leave it alone. Setting your phone only takes a moment and could save a life. The best Christmas present you can give your family is you getting home safely.”