Queensland has introduced the toughest penalties in Australia for drivers illegally using mobile devices behind the wheel.
The offence now carries a fine of $1,000 and four demerit points for a first offence.
Those caught a second time within 12 months would see double demerits applied and could lose their licence.
Minister for Transport and Main Roads, Mark Bailey said the new measures were necessary to stamp out driver distraction.
“We’re getting tough on distracted drivers using mobile phones because it is costing lives on our roads,” Mr Bailey said.
He said 33 lives were lost to distraction on Queensland roads in 2018 and more than 1,300 people were hospitalised in crashes caused by distracted driving.
“We believe that number was under-reported too, because it’s difficult for investigators to confirm the link between phone use and these crashes,” Mr Bailey said.
“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.”
He said through random breath testing and huge investments in driver education campaigns, society now agreed that drink driving was “not on”.
“Now it’s time for all of us to send that message loudly and clearly to distracted drivers; don’t reach for the phone to send a quick text or check social media,” he said.
“Put the phone in the glovebox or set it to ‘Do Not Disturb’ so you’re not distracted by it.”
Mr Bailey said the Government would also trial new camera technology being used in NSW that could catch drivers with phones in their hands or laps.
“I’ve seen the technology in action – it works and I have no doubt it will save lives,” he said.