The dangerous message lost on drivers
SHOCKING new data shows that the majority of drivers don't believe texting while driving is dangerous.
Findings from The Centre for Accident Research and Road Safety - Queensland (CARRS-Q) disturbingly highlight that mobile FOMO (fear of missing out) is more of a concern for motorists than the fear of dying.
Driving texters are 6.1 times more likely to crash and those talking on mobile 2.2 times more likely to be in an accident.
Road safety experts are calling on the Queensland Government to urgently tackle the rife and deadly problem with a hard-hitting advertising and education push similar to drink-driving campaigns and motorists who touch their phones should lose their licence.
Driver distraction is one of the five leading causes of death and injury on Queensland roads.
"It's not just about texting anymore" researcher Dr Oscar Oviedo-Trespalacios, from CARRS-Q told News Queensland.
"We have hit an era where people live via their phones and the devices cause many different distractions. Keeping people off the devices is increasingly more difficult.
"Queenslanders have actually become very proficient at hiding their illegal phone movements from police.
"It is disappointing that the message about mobile distraction has not got through."
Reacting to the research, Transport and Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey said plans were under way to run a driver distraction campaign targeting a wide audience within the next fiscal year.
Due to the sneaky behaviour of drivers hiding their phone use, driver distraction infringements in the state fell 40 per cent from 2013 to 2017.
Russell White, founder of the Australian Road Safety Foundation said he was blown away that most drivers were blind to the dangers.
"Phones are becoming the next big safety epidemic," Mr White said.
"I hope the government invests in a shock awareness campaign similar to drink driving campaigns.
"I think tougher penalties are required and licences should be taken away. People won't like it but it has to happen."
In 2017 there were 30 recorded fatalities to the end of November that were the result of driver distraction.
Transport and Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey said his department regularly reviews penalties to ensure they are an effective deterrent.
Drivers can be fined $378 with three demerit points and if they are caught again within a year they receive double demerit points.
"We are working with stakeholders, including technology companies, automotive manufacturers, telecommunications companies, mobile device manufacturers and insurance providers to develop new and innovative ways to tackle this behaviour," Mr Bailey said.
Last year the government released the "Chin Up" campaign made by young people for young people to raise awareness of the dangers of using phones while driving, the campaign reached nearly four million people.