Drivers still text despite dangers

Maddie Orchard from East Ballina, and Katie Cross from East Lismore, admit to using their mobile phones while driving even though they know it’s dangerous.
Maddie Orchard from East Ballina, and Katie Cross from East Lismore, admit to using their mobile phones while driving even though they know it’s dangerous. Cathy Adams

THEY know it is wrong and potentially dangerous, but Maddie Orchard of East Ballina, and Katie Cross of Lismore, still send text messages while driving.

“Yes, I do it,” 21-year-old Maddie admitted.

“But only because if someone texts you and if you don’t text back straight away, you might forget about it.

“And I can text without even looking at the screen.”

Katie, 24, says she makes phone calls while driving more often than she sends messages.

“I work in Byron Bay but live in Lismore, so I spend a bit of time in the car,” she said. So far, the women have not been caught.

But, according to NSW Police, using a mobile phone while driving is just as dangerous for young drivers as low-range drink-driving.

And a road test done by NRMA Insurance found that people who text and drive spend almost 70 per cent of the trip glancing at their phone.

It also revealed the drivers, on average, glanced at their phone 38 times for an average 1.4 seconds during the trip.

This means that a driver travelling at 60km/h glances at their phone for 22 metres at a time, according to NRMA Insurance spokesman, Robert McDonald.

He said it was a ‘confronting insight into the dangers of sending and receiving texts while driving’.

“People clearly have an appetite for mobile phones and their convenience of immediate communication,” he said.

“But drivers need to resist the urge of sending or reading that message when it comes through.

“It is not only dangerous for the driver but also for the passengers and other drivers on the road.”

Eating, drinking, smoking or checking your appearance in the rear-view mirror is also distracting, Mr McDonald said.

“If you lose focus while behind the wheel, even if it is only for a split second, the consequences can be serious,” he said.

“If people need to read or send a message urgently we suggest they pull over and read it in a safe place.”

This year’s edition of the NSW Guide to Driver Safety, released by Pro-Visual Publishing yesterday, highlights that young drivers agedbetween 17 and 24 are the biggest safety risks.

Chief executive John Hutchings said mobile phones were an ‘essential part of many people’s lives’.

“But it is vital that they are aware that mobile phones and driving do not mix,” he said.

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