The subject of driver distraction has come up once again after two policemen were seriously injured when a driver ploughed into them roadside while he was texting behind the wheel.
One of the officers lost part of his leg in the accident in the Sydney suburb of Leumeah.
The 22-year-old had already had his licence suspended four times and was also banned from driving in 2016 for using his smartphone while driving.
When are people going to learn that texting and checking social media while driving could have fatal consequences?
Not only for the driver but for other people on the road.
There are already strict laws for the use of mobile phones in vehicles with the main requirement that people keep their hands off their devices while driving.
Even taking your eyes off the road for a few seconds to type out a couple of words on a message or an email is like driving 100m blindfolded.
There have been many suggestions on how to reduce this dangerous practice including heavier fines and camera systems that can see if the driver is touching their device.
Because Australians are so tightly connected to their smartphone, many find it hard to break that link – even when they are driving.
I’ve often seen drivers on expressways travelling at more than 100km an hour with their phone in their hand trying to type a message.
All you can do is shake your head in dismay.
Should we make it all right to honk your horn if you see another driver using their phone?
I’ve seen people abusing drivers who were seen using their phone.
We’ve seen road rage when people cut each other off or don’t let each other in to their lane.
So why can’t we direct that anger at people who are potentially endangering our lives?
We think the biggest issue of using a phone while you’re driving is the notifications.
There wouldn’t be many drivers who would suddenly decide to send a text message while driving at high speed down the expressway.
In our minds, its the notifications of incoming text messages on social media alerts that are taking the drivers’ attention off the road.
And it’s the urge to reply as quickly as possible that are getting drivers into trouble.
There are already a number of apps for both Android and iOS, aimed mainly at young drivers, which are designed to encourage users to drive safer.
Apple is also included Do Not Disturb While Driving which is available in the current IOS software for iPhones.
It can detect when a person is behind the wheel and block all notifications while they are driving.
This feature, along with all the other apps, needs to be activated by the user.
In other words, it’s voluntary – and most drivers couldn’t be bothered.
The technology exists to prevent drivers receiving messages and notifications and even calls while they’re in the car.
But responsible drivers will argue they use their device in the proper manner and would suffer for the sins of others.
I use my time while I drive making and receiving calls. Of course, I use my car’s hands-free system to be able to talk safely while still keeping my eyes on the road.
But I’ve never entertained the thought of trying to text somebody or reply while I’m on the road.
The times where I did need to send an urgent message or email, I safely pulled over by the side of the road, turned off the car and wrote my message.
It’s the people who couldn’t be bothered pulling over or waiting until they arrive at their destination to send their message that are endangering your life and my life.
Thousands of people are caught using their devices – but far more are getting away with it.
And the sad thing is, someone could die before they get the message.
We think the fine if you get caught texting while driving has to be so astronomically high that drivers will think twice before touching their phone to send that message.
At the moment in New South Wales if a person is caught texting or just touching their device while driving they will lose three demerit points and be issued with a $298 fine.
If you do that in a school zone it’s four demerit points in the $397 fine.
The penalty has to be severe enough for the driver to know there are serious consequences if they get caught.
I’d go so far as to make drivers lose their license on the spot. Even if it’s for a week. That will have enough impact on their life to realise it was the wrong thing to do.
If a driver has so little regard for other people on the road that he or she is sending a text message while they’re driving, they don’t deserve to have a licence.