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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 07 Hansard (Tuesday, 22 June 2021) . . Page.. 1845 ..


working on to keep people protected on our roads. The ACT Greens are pleased to support this amendment.

DR PATERSON (Murrumbidgee) (11.58): I am pleased to support Minister Steel and the Road Transport (Safety and Traffic Management) Amendment Bill 2021, which addresses the serious issue of driver distraction. I stand here today with a mobile phone, as I am sure most of us do. I can attest to how this little device has made its way into almost every aspect of my life. For the most part, this has improved my life—it allows me to stay in touch with family and friends, keeps me updated on news and provides me with the capacity to work flexibly. The use of these devices has permeated our society. Few people these days do not have a smart device that connects them to the internet, and even fewer still do not have a device at all. The increasing role of mobile phones in our lives shows no sign of abating. However, these devices clearly do not belong in every aspect of our lives—there are some circumstances where they do not improve our wellbeing.

Clear evidence exists that mobile phones present unacceptable risk to us and the people around us if we use them while driving. Unfortunately, despite the fact that it is well known that using a mobile device while driving is dangerous, it occurs around the country and in our community. The decision to use a mobile device while driving is that of the driver. It is a conscious decision to use the device and it is a conscious decision not to pull over. No-one forces people to make these decisions, and those who choose to use their phones while driving do so for selfish reasons and at the expense of other road users.

I am disappointed to say that Canberrans are using their mobile devices while driving at alarming rates. In 2020 ACT Policing issued 1,008 infringement notices and 190 cautions. This means ACT Policing had 1,198 interactions with people who actively chose to use their mobile device while driving. That is more than three times per day. I think we all suspect that the prevalence rate of this behaviour in our community is significantly higher, as these figures reflect offending that was spotted by the officers, and, as much as they try, they cannot be everywhere.

People who use their mobile devices while driving are more likely to speed, diverge from their lane and have a delayed reaction to anything occurring on the road and surrounding environment. These things all directly lead to more accidents. If a person is using their mobile to text or browse the internet, the risk of crashing increases by a factor of 10.

As my colleague has previously outlined, the bill will have significant positive flow-on effects to the community. Automated camera-based enforcement coupled with existing police enforcement has played a critical role in addressing other high risk behaviours on our roads, such as speeding and red-light running. These camera programs have proven to help prevent crashes and reduce road trauma. Mobile device detection cameras, as with our existing road safety cameras, will support existing law enforcement activities undertaken by ACT Policing. They are not a substitute.

The risk and consequences of drivers using their mobile devices are not solely borne by them; others also wear the risk of that behaviour, including other drivers,


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