New Rules Have Cost Queensland Drivers $850,000
It’s been six weeks since big fines for using a mobile phone while driving were rolled out on Queensland roads and hundreds of people have been caught breaking the rules.
At $1000 each fine, more than $850,000 in penalties have been issued to drivers since February 1.
The state's roads minister Mark Bailey said people are still taking the risk of being distracted by their phones while driving.
"It's like closing your eyes for two seconds, while you're driving, and imagine what can happen in two seconds," he said.
A person driving at 60 kilometres per hour travels 33 metres in the two seconds they are staring at their phone.
"What we know is it is the same risk as driving drunk, and people have to change their habits because it's costing people their lives," Bailey said.
Russell White, CEO of Driver Safety Australia (DSA), said the new figures were potentially just the tip of the iceberg.
"It's shocking that we've got that many people being fined for the use of their mobile phone, clearly that message hasn't gotten through," he told 10 News First.
"We really need to get very serious about this issue and just make the public fully aware and fully accountable."
White said the 853 fines may be higher than normal in a six-week time span because driver distraction has been the focus of police in recent times, but there is no doubting that it is a major problem.
It is DSA's hope that the new enforcement measures will start a cultural shift and people will be less likely to use their phones while driving.
"Unfortunately for many people, the key to that change is the perceived risk of getting caught and unfortunately, not so much having the crash," White said.
Queensland will follow its southern neighbour New South Wales next month and begin mobile phone detection camera trials.
NSW began issuing fines for people found to be using their mobiles while driving by cameras on March 1.