BIG PRICE TAG: Fines for drivers caught using their phones will be more than tripled in the new year. Picture: Anna Rogers
BIG PRICE TAG: Fines for drivers caught using their phones will be more than tripled in the new year. Picture: Anna Rogers

Why you will want to buy a Bluetooth kit before Feb 1

THE State Government may have inadvertently stimulated the Bluetooth and hands-free economy with a recent announcement set to have people swearing off touching their phones while driving.

Fines are about to be raised for drivers caught using their phones in Queensland.

A fine of $1000 may sound like an eye-watering amount of cash to cough up for a first-time traffic infringement, but Gatton Police Station’s Sergeant Don Graham is in favour for any change to reduce the number of people dying on the region’s roads.

Mobile phone use while driving, Sgt Graham said, was a huge distraction for drivers, often ending in serious crashes.

“Driving is a very hard skill to actually do and when you put in an added element like using a mobile phone, it adds to the complexity of driving,” Sgt Graham said.

“It takes away from your mental capacity to concentrate on what you’re doing while driving – it means you’re more distracted.”

Sgt Graham said it was hard to say exactly how many infringements had been issued to drivers in the region but said, like for other areas Australia-wide, it was a problem.

When people were pulled over for using their phones, they generally knew what they had done wrong.

“They say they’re sorry and that they just had to take the call,” Sgt Graham said.

“But the cost of installing a Bluetooth is much cheaper than the fine.”

A $300 fine and three demerit points is the price tag for anyone caught using their mobile phone while driving but the penalty is set to increase in the new year.

As of February 1, drivers will face $1000 fines and four demerit points, if they’re caught.

Minister for Transport and Main Roads Mark Bailey said the “deadly” habit of using a mobile to send a text, take a call or check social media needed to stop.

“A driver’s response time while texting is comparable to that of a driver with a blood alcohol reading of between 0.07 and 0.10,” Mr Bailey said.

“Put the phone in the glovebox or set it to Do Not Disturb so you’re not distracted by it.”

Sgt Graham said the price rise from $300 might be enough to change the way people think about the fine.

“If the current fines aren’t working, we need to look at something else,” he said.

“(They think) it’s a low chance of getting caught and they think the fine is something they will worry about later – a significant increase in fine will hopefully deter people.”


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