By Georgia Parsonson
Cameras that can catch drivers using phones or not wearing seatbelts will be introduced to Queensland roadsides later this month.
According to Transport and Main Roads Minister, Mark Bailey, driving while distracted is a silent killer.
“Our message has always been direct and very simple: just put your phone away,” he said.
“Using a mobile phone while driving has the same impact as getting behind the wheel with a blood alcohol reading between 0.07 and 0.10.”
After a successful trial period last year, the cameras will be in use from the 26th of July.
“Some of the cameras will be mobile, and we won’t be telling people where they are either.
“Drivers should expect to be caught anywhere, anytime, whether they’re driving in the city or on a regional highway.”
Queensland drivers may expect a three-month grace period to adjust to the new cameras. Those drivers caught using their phones between the 26th of July and the 31st of October will receive a notification that they have been seen, but they will not be fined.
However, from the 1st of November, any driver caught will lose 40 demerit points and receive a fine of $1333.
Mr Bailey has acknowledged that the penalties are tough and insists that they are necessary to stamp out driver distraction.
“So far in 2021, 136 people have died on Queensland roads – 12 more than at the same time last year,” he said.
“The numbers are shocking, particularly when you consider that for every life lost, another 27 people are treated in hospital.
“These deaths and injuries have a shattering impact on communities across the state.”
A spokesperson from the RACQ, Renee Smith, says the club welcomes the new cameras to improve road safety in Queensland.
“We know on average around 29 people are killed and more than a thousand others are seriously injured every year on Queensland roads as a result of crashes where driver distraction played a part,” Ms Smith said.
“More detailed rules around mobile phone use by drivers, along with greater enforcement of the road rules through these first-of-a-kind cameras, will help to reduce driver distraction and improve road safety in Queensland.
“Sadly, we’re still seeing drivers refusing to wear a seatbelt. Seatbelts save lives – it’s as simple as that.
“Refusing to wear a seatbelt is a risk that can’t afford to be taken, as it’s often the difference between life and death in a crash.
“Given the shocking number of people killed on our roads so far this year, we hope these new measures will help deter unsafe driving and save lives.”