Mobile Phones Behind The Wheel Are Drivers' Biggest Road Fear: Study

Drivers surveyed said using mobile phones was even more concerning than drink driving, speeding and fatigue.

Motorists who use their mobile phones behind the wheel are the biggest safety fear for fellow road-users, according to a new study.

The NRMA survey found that almost three-quarters (72 percent) of drivers ranked illegal phone use as their biggest concern, overtaking fears over drink drivers (56 percent) and motorists who speed (55 percent).

While the new study suggests Aussie drivers could finally be getting the message about the dangers of illegal mobile phone use, the results come after a 2017 report found one-fifth of drivers read texts while driving and 15 percent believed they would not get caught.

Speeding remains the biggest killer on NSW roads but the number of people caught on their mobile phones is continuing to rise and is cause for concern, according to road safety expert Dimitra Vlahomitros.

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Drivers who illegally use their mobile phones will driving are the biggest safety concern for fellow motorists. Image: Getty

"It is understandable that there is so much concern about people using their phones illegally behind the wheel -- you can tell almost instantly if the person in front of you is focusing on their phone and not the road because they look like they are driving drunk,” Vlahomitros said.

The survey comes after the NSW Government last month announced new laws from September which will increase the penalty from four to five points demerit points for illegal mobile phone use while driving.

"We know from a recent RMS survey that 74 per cent of the community support a crackdown to illegal phone use behind the wheel. We all see it and the community has had enough,” Minister for Roads, Maritime and Freight Melinda Pavey said in  July.

“We have already introduced legislation to enable camera-based technology so it can be used to enforce mobile phone offences in the future, a world first.”

The latest study from the NRMA also found that more than half of motorists surveyed supported the role of police in deterring drivers from using their devices. Visible highway patrols were considered the most effective way to tackle bad driver behaviour according to 56 percent of participants.

Safety cameras were voted as the third most effective deterrent (9 percent).

"A greater number of clearly marked, visible highway patrols is the most effective way to change bad behaviour because drivers never know if there is one around the corner or over the hill," Vlahomitros siad.

"Of all the measures now used by Government to save lives it is the Police alone who have the capacity to tackle all risks at once – you can’t catch a drunk driver with a speed camera.”

The 1500 motorists who participated in the NRMA survey also ranked driving under the influence of drugs (41 percent) and driver fatigue (38 percent) as key safety fears on roads.

Featured Image: Getty Images.