Topics: Rereātea - Midday News, Youth

Could you survive without your phone for a whole weekend?

By Jessica Tyson

Students around the country are being urged to take part in a nationwide campaign to stop young people from using their phones while driving.

Students Against Dangerous Driving (SADD) has organised the campaign PhoneFree48 to raise awareness about the risks of driving distracted.

As part of the campaign, participants will go without their phones for 48 hours from Friday 6pm to Sunday 6pm.

SADD National Leader at St Dominic’s College Piper Young says cell phones are a huge distraction in cars, particularly for young drivers.

“Phones are extremely useful but they have addictive qualities, which makes them hard to resist using at any time.  It takes discipline to not reach for our phones in the instant we decide we need to know something,” she says.

“We want people to understand that even in our fast-paced lives, not everything needs an immediate response. It’s just not worth it”.

According to SADD, young people are most likely to be involved in crashes caused by in-vehicle distractions and the safety of young drivers appears to be getting worse.

Young learner and restricted license holders now account for around one in seven fatal or serious injury crashes.

In 2017, driver distraction was a contributing factor in 40 fatal crashes, 240 serious injuries and 1,187 minor injuries.

“With our campaign, we hope we’ll show people that you can survive without your phone for a whole weekend, so not using your phone while you’re driving isn’t actually a hard ask.”

What is the law on cellphone use while driving?
Under the Land Transport (Road User) Rule 2004 drivers can't use, while driving, a hand-held mobile phone to:

  • make, receive or terminate a telephone call
  • create, send or read a text message or email
  • create, send or view a video message
  • communicate in a similar or any other way.

Penalties are an $80 fine and 20 demerit points. If you accumulate 100 or more demerit points in any 2-year period, your license can be suspended for 3 months. Drivers can use a mobile phone to make a call while driving only if it is an emergency situation and unsafe or impracticable to stop the vehicle to make the call.