24 Jul Breaking the deadly epidemic of texting and driving
As one of Australia’s largest heavy motor insurers, GT Insurance were disheartened to hear the results of a recent study which found that 71% of truck accidents are caused by distractions, specifically texting or using a handheld device.
It’s because of these statistics that in Australia it’s illegal to touch a handheld phone while driving, let alone text while driving. Drivers however, are still being caught by police every day breaking these rules. It’s such a problem that NSW has increased the demerit points from four to five for texting while driving, making these the toughest penalties in Australia. There is also a big push for increasing the fines of texting while driving in Queensland from $400 to $1000 and anyone offending a second time will lose their licence.
Using technology to break the texting and driving habit
Phone technology: With the introduction of Apple’s iOS 11, your phone can sense when you are driving, so it automatically silences notifications and keeps the screen dark while you are driving. The idea of this function is that you aren’t distracted by the screen lighting up when you receive a call, text message or email.
Apple’s DO NOT DISTURB function should turn on automatically when your iPhone connects with your car’s Bluetooth. If it doesn’t connect automatically, you might have to dig into your phone’s settings, select the driving option and set it to activate automatically when connected to Bluetooth. If your car doesn’t have Bluetooth, you can set this function manually in the settings, but the iPhone should sense that you are driving via its built-in accelerometer. You may need to play around with it to get it to work for your situation.
For those of you with an Android phone, you can download the DRIVING DETECTIVE app, which offers the same functionality as the newer Apple iPhones.
Tips for breaking the habit
- If you have a meeting, phone ahead and let them know that you are on your way, so they won’t call when you are driving.
- If you are visiting family or friends, do the same and let them know that you won’t be checking your phone for the next 30 mins, 1 hour etc.
- If your car breaks down or another emergency situation happens while you are driving, pull over safely, turn the engine off, and only then pick up your phone and make the call.
- Turn your phone off while you are driving.
- Use the DO NOT DISTURB function on your iPhone or download the DRIVING DETECTIVE on your android.
- Mount your phone on the dash if you need to use it for navigation (or better yet, buy a GPS).
- Don’t be tempted to use your phone while driving for anything, not even to get live traffic updates, stream music through the car’s audio system, take photos or access map apps.
And above all, remember it’s illegal in all Australian states and territories to use a hand held mobile device whilst driving.