Drive in the Moment – Distraction

Even the smallest of distractions while driving can have devastating consequences.

“If your eyes leave the road for even a second, it increases the likelihood of having a crash,” said the Chair of the Road Safety, Scott Tilyard.

“Distracted drivers are not only a danger to themselves, but also to their passengers and other road users.”

Today’s theme for National Road Safety Week is Drive in the Moment and urges drivers to think about the task ahead every time they get behind the wheel.

Last year 36 people died on Tasmania’s roads and more than 300 were seriously injured.

Inattention, including distraction, using a mobile phone along with fatigue, contributed to  nearly a quarter of fatalities and serious injuries.

“Distraction is an unseen threat that can have fatal consequences, endangering not only our lives but the lives of others,” said Mr Tilyard. 

“Everyone, at some point, has been distracted while driving – it might have been adjusting something on your car dashboard, drinking a coffee, glancing at the kids in the back seat, talking to a passenger or checking your phone.”

The increased use of mobile phones while driving is one distraction that has the biggest impact on driving behaviour.  Research has shown that using a mobile phone while driving increases the risk of crashing.

“We know that using a mobile phone while driving can impair performance, slow reaction times, impact on following distances and affect overall awareness of your surroundings.

“Looking at your phone while driving, even glancing at it quickly, is like driving blind.”

Since August last year, mobile cameras operating throughout Tasmania can detect

illegal use of mobile phones while driving and also failing to or incorrectly wearing a seatbelt.

“Detection cameras aim to reduce the number of people being seriously injured or killed on our roads as a result of driving while distracted, incorrectly or failing to wear a seatbelt, or speeding,” said Mr Tilyard. 

“They complement the work of police in enforcing higher levels of compliance with our Road Rules.”

So far this year, up until the end of March, mobile cameras have issued more than 400 mobile phone use infringement notices.

Mr Tilyard said the number of infringement notices issued for seatbelt non-compliance is also concerning, with 1,100 infringement notices being issued between January and the end of March this year.

“Buckling up as soon as you get in a car is second nature for most people, but unfortunately that’s not the case for everyone.

“Alarmingly, some people don’t even ensure that their children are properly restrained.”

Wearing a correctly fitted seatbelt reduces the risk of being fatally injured by up to 50 per cent. 

“Tragically there have been eight lives lost on our roads this year and four of these may have been prevented if a seatbelt had been worn.

“Unfortunately, seatbelt non-compliance continues to be a significant factor in road trauma in Tasmania with approximately nine per cent of fatal and serious injuries in 2024 to date involving seatbelt non-compliance.

“As National Road Safety Week draws to a close, please continue to have the road safety conversation with your family and friends and remember the theme of the week – Drive So Other Survive – not only for this week but every time you take to the roads,” said Mr Tilyard.