Motor vehicle accidents are worryingly common – there were thousands last year in Queensland alone. Many different factors can cause crashes, including driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, speeding and fatigue. With regular campaigns designed to lower the instance of these factors, it can be easy to forget another common cause of accidents: distracted drivers.
Research has attributed as many as 1 in 10 fatalities to drivers being distracted by something inside or outside of their vehicle. It’s well worth understanding what the potential distractions are in order to minimise the risk of being affected by them during your travels.
It only takes a split second of distraction for tragedy to strike. Common distractions on the road may include:
- Your mobile phone – whether it’s a phone conversation, texting or using apps
- Changing the radio station, CD or song
- Helping children in the back seat
- Arguments or heated discussions with passengers.
Don’t forget – using your mobile phone while you are behind the wheel is illegal. This applies when you are stopped at red lights, in a drive-through, or stuck in traffic. At the time of publication, in Queensland you can be fined $365 and have 3 demerit points recorded if you are caught using your phone while driving. View the full restrictions and consequences on the QLD government website.
Avoiding distractions can be challenging; no drive is completely distraction-free, even if you are dedicated to safe driving. Something as simple as a bird flying past in your peripheral vision can be enough to draw your attention away from the road momentarily, and that can be all it takes.
So how can you minimise the chances of being in a motor vehicle accident? Here are some tips to help you stay safe while you travel.
- Turn off your phone, or put it in the back seat.
- If you have an Open licence, install a hands-free kit so that you can talk on your mobile phone without taking your eyes off the road. Learner and
P1 provisional licence holders are not permitted to use hands-free kits in Queensland.
- Ensure any children in the car are securely restrained and occupied to the best of your ability. This could involve providing them with games, music,
snacks and water before you begin your journey.
- Alternatively, if you have young children you may find it easier to plan long journeys to coincide with nap times, giving you more peace to concentrate.
- If you must help children or passengers, pull the vehicle over in a safe spot before you attempt to assist them.
- Plan regular breaks on longer trips to let your mind recover from long periods of focus and avoid fatigue-related distractions.
- Plan your music in advance – have your preferred CD or radio station playing before you depart, or have your playlist ready to go before setting
off. This will help you avoid the need to change songs while you’re travelling.
You may also find it helpful to have a plan in case the worst happens and you are involved in an accident. For specialist legal advice, don’t hesitate to contact us online or by calling 1800 007 277. We offer obligation-free consultations, so you can have peace of mind knowing you’re prepared before you head off on your next trip.