Police plea for mobile phone sense

Tim EdmundsAlbany Advertiser

Police say the amount of drivers using social media apps while driving is on the rise, along with the prevalence of serious and fatal crashes linked to the dangerous behaviour.

Police remain concerned about the amount of distracted drivers on the roads, with an investigation into a number of fatalities last year concluding mobile phone use was a contributing factor.

Speaking with the Albany Advertiser yesterday, Great Southern traffic police Senior Constable Cameron Mitchell said the increase in social media use was noticeable and of particular concern.

He said only some drivers acknowledged using a phone while behind the wheel was risky behaviour.

“There’s a mix of all types of mobile phone use, but we’re seeing a notable increase in texting and social media use whilst driving,” he said.

“The numbers of serious and fatal crashes involving mobile phone use are on the rise.

“If you don’t stop this dangerous behaviour now, receiving an infringement may well be the least of your concerns.

“The majority seem to think nothing bad will happen if they do it, only if others do it.”

Increased penalties for using a mobile phone while driving came into effect in 2014 with the current penalty being a $400 fine and three demerit points.

Sen. Const. Mitchell said in a lot of cases the tougher penalties were acting as a deterrent.

“Thankfully, most people in the Great Southern learn from being caught, but there will unfortunately be some who will never learn,” he said. According to Road Safety Commission research, 90 per cent of WA drivers acknowledge texting while driving is dangerous, but 57 per cent still irregularly or regularly offend.

P-plate drivers Hannah Moody and Jason Dunbar both said their mobile phones were always a temptation while driving but they had tried measures to avoid using them.

“Sometimes I put it on the back seat if I feel particularly tempted,” Ms Moody said.

Drivers filming themselves on social media speeding on Albany Highway have been condemned by police in the past two years.

Last year a 25-year-old Perth man was charged by police after they viewed a video on his Instagram account of him driving at 180km/h on Albany Highway.

The man was fined $1200 and had his licence disqualified for eight months after pleading guilty to exceeding the speed limit by 45km/h or more.

Earlier this year an Instagram user posted a video of a car travelling about 50km/h over the speed limit, with the caption “Albany 160 speed”.

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