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Click, store, go

Keep distractions to a minimum behind the wheel. The message is simple: click your seatbelt, store your phone and you’re good to go.

We all like to think we can multitask: listening to a podcast while we cook, playing on our phone while we watch TV, or sending an email in a meeting. But we’re not as good at multitasking as we'd like to believe, and when it comes to driving, we shouldn’t put it to the test. Even for the most experienced driver, driving requires complete focus and attention. And if you’re tempted to even glance at your phone while driving, expect to get caught. Mobile phone and speed detection cameras are now live in Tasmania.

On average, it takes 4.6 seconds to text while driving and a person about 1.5 seconds to react to an incident. This means it will take a distracted driver about 6 seconds before they are able to respond to a critical event on the road. As a result, a distracted driver travelling at 100km/h will travel around 167m before they react to a hazard and apply their brakes. That’s like travelling the length of more than three Olympic-size swimming pools.

So, what happens when a car suddenly stops in front of you? Or someone tries to quickly cross the road? Distraction is the killer we don’t see coming, and it could cost us – and others – our lives.

Any distraction on the road can be dangerous, and we all need to remember to keep distractions to a minimum when we’re behind the wheel. When you’re driving distracted, it can make it hard to control your speed and following distance. It also reduces your awareness of surrounding traffic, events, signals and signs, affecting your ability to react. If you can’t trust yourself not to touch your phone while driving, switch it off, put on Do Not Disturb, or even put it in your glovebox or back seat out of the way.

The introduction of new mobile phone and seatbelt detection cameras are part of the Tasmanian Government’s ongoing campaign to reduce the number of lives lost and people injured on our roads. The new cameras can detect drivers using or holding a mobile phone while driving, having a mobile phone resting on their body or intentionally looking at the display of a phone being operated by another person. The cameras can also catch a driver failing to wear a properly adjusted or fastened seatbelt.

The cameras will operate around Tasmania at all times of the day and night. If you’re caught illegally using your phone, or you or your passengers are not wearing a seatbelt, you’ll be hit with a fine of $390 and three demerit points. If a passenger under 16 is detected not wearing a seatbelt the fine is up to around $439.