Industry Road Safety Alliance urges drivers to put phones down

Stuart McGuckinSouth Western Times
Manjimup shire president Paul Omodei, Dardanup shire's Luke Botica, Dardanup shire vice-president Peter Robinson, Collie shire president Sarah Stanley, Collie shire's Brett Lowcock and Harvey shire's Dave Campbell show how easy it is to be distracted by their phones.
Camera IconManjimup shire president Paul Omodei, Dardanup shire's Luke Botica, Dardanup shire vice-president Peter Robinson, Collie shire president Sarah Stanley, Collie shire's Brett Lowcock and Harvey shire's Dave Campbell show how easy it is to be distracted by their phones. Credit: Stuart McGuckin

Drivers are being reminded to not use their phones while behind the wheel as part of the Industry Road Safety Alliance South West’s latest campaign.

The “Break the Habit” message urges drivers to put down their phones after surveys suggested more than half admitted to using them despite 90 per cent acknowledging the danger.

Alliance project manager Sarah Stanley said distractions could be visual, physical, auditory and cognitive.

“Mobile phones can be distracting in all those ways all at once,” she said.

“They are about as dangerous as being drunk while driving.

“This is the sort of habit we need to try to break because most of us recognise the danger but do it anyway.”

She said there were easy things drivers could do so they were not tempted to use their phones.

“The simplest thing to do would be to turn your phone off then put it in the glove box or the boot or anywhere away all together,” she said.

“There are also some good apps or settings on the phone itself that can be used.

“They will basically send a do not disturb message to the caller and then deliver all the calls and messages in a lump once you reach your destination.”

The alliance has adapted four cognitive tests to further help drivers break the habit.

Ms Stanley said similar tests had been run by a neuroscientist for the Queensland Government to try to slow people down.

“The four tests all work on different parts of your brain,” she said.

“They’re as simple as making an effort to acknowledge other drivers while driving – that broadens your brain bandwidth to outside the car making you a little more alert and attentive.

“When they did that test while trying to get drivers to slow down the number of times people would speed was reduced by 26 per cent.

“It was effective in that sense so we just adapted it for something different.”

The tests can be found at industryroadsafety.com.au.

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