Surviving the fatal five… Police are out to stop distracted drivers, particularly those using mobile phones. Wynnum Traffic Branch s Constable Scott Knijff is one of many police who will be enforcing the rules this Christmas. Photo by Chris McCormackDRIVER inattention has become the latest addition to bad behaviour on our roads, joining drink-driving, speed, seatbelts and fatigue as the major causes of accidents on the state’s roads.
Police added distraction to the list, upgrading the Fatal Four to the Fatal Five, at the launch of this year’s Christmas road safety campaign.
While using mobile phones when behind the wheel is a major cause of distraction, driver inattention covers actions including changing the radio station, putting on make up and eating breakfast.
In Wynnum District, which spans Wynnum to Redland Bay and the bay islands, police have fined 593 motorists for using a mobile phone while driving.
During November, police fined 41 drivers who were caught either talking on a mobile phone, texting or checking social media sites while driving.
Wynnum District Superintendent Jim Keogh said drivers were constantly lulled into a false sense of security believing they were capable of using a mobile phone, eating or doing any other distracting task while driving.
“(Drivers can be confident) because they haven’t had an accident in quite a number of years,” he said.
“What they don’t realise is that once they are in a volatile situation leading up to an accident the circumstances are unforgiving.
“It’s very hard to regain control of your car once you’ve lost control. That’s what happens.”
Police Minister Jack Dempsey said the Fatal Five message was clear.
“Everyone would be happy if there were zero (road deaths) and police would be happy if they didn’t have to write another ticket out,” he said.
“The fact is, out of all of the deaths on our roads, a lot of those deaths could have been avoidable.”
Mr Dempsey said a fatal accident also affects the lives of police, firemen and paramedics who attend the crash.
“It really affects everyone from emergency services to the community,” he said.
“If people want to be free-spirited or walk on the wild-side they can go and climb a mountain or go fishing out in the bay.
“There’s lots of other ways you can seek thrills, and not put your life or other lives at risk.”
Mr Dempsey said 96,000 Queensland drivers in the past three years had been fined for driving distracted.
“(Using phones while driving) is almost becoming addictive,” he said.
“No phone call or Tweet is worth a life or an injury. People should simply put their phone away in a vehicle. Whatever they may have to do on a phone, it’s not worth the pain and suffering.”
The state-wide Christmas road safety campaign runs from December 12 to February 4.
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