Queensland Drivers Fined More Than $200,000 In Six Days For Breaking Phone Rule
The past six days have been expensive for Queensland drivers -- with more than $200,000 being dished out in fines for using mobile phones while behind the wheel.
Last year Queensland Parliament passed a law increasing the penalty for using a mobile phone while driving or riding to $1,000 and the loss of four demerit points.
The penalty, which also applies to riding a bike or a horse, came into effect on February 1.
And it's been a very costly six days for drivers who were caught breaking the new rules.
By February 7, 218 drivers had been busted at a total of $218,000 in fines, the Royal Automobile Club of Queensland (RACQ) said.
RACQ's Joel Tucker said the state government's crackdown on inattentive motorists was clearly working.
"These stats indicate that the rules are being enforced and if people do the wrong thing, they can be caught," Tucker said.
Under the new penalties, it is illegal for motorists to hold their phone in their hand to text, talk, receive a call or perform any other function while driving or riding -- even when stopped at traffic lights.
This includes holding the phone up to, or near, their ear.
The penalties apply to open licence holders -- including car, truck and motorbike riders -- for two consecutive offences.
If these offences occur in one year, the motorist could lose their licence or be put on a one-year good driving behaviour period.
Learner drivers will lose their licence after one offence, while P-platers could lose their licence or face a one-year behaviour period.
While those with an open licence can use a phone hands-free, it is illegal for Learners and P1 drivers to use a phone in any way while driving -- including using maps, Bluetooth and handsfree.
Tucker said some motorists' priorities had shifted from driving safely to keeping up to date on social media.
He said Queenslanders need to get in the habit of setting up their phone before driving and leaving it alone while they're on the road.
“Whether it’s music or navigation, set everything up before you start driving and, once you reach your destination, you can catch up on your messages and social media," Tucker said.
Queensland Roads Minister Mark Bailey said he had no sympathy for those who have been caught.
“I’ve got no doubt the fines will shock them,” he said.
“It’s easy to send a text or have a quick scan of social media when you’re driving, but that ‘like’ is not worth your life or the life of someone else.”
Thirty-three people died on the state's roads in 2018 due to distracted driving.
But Bailey said that number is likely higher as it can be hard to prove a distraction was a cause of a crash.