And people are calling for proper, visible policing to deal with the problem.
Nearly three-quarters of Australian motorists are worried about mobile phone use, and more than half are calling for a strong police presence to tackle the problem.
According to a study of 1500 NRMA members, illegal phone use tops the list of safety concerns on the road, with 72 per cent of respondents listing it as a concern, topping drunk drivers (56 per cent) and speeding (55 per cent).
Aggressive driving concerned 46 per cent of respondents, while 41 per cent were worried about drug-affected motorists. Driver fatigue rounded out the list of worries, with 38 per cent of people listing it as a concern.
Dimitra Vlahomitros, NRMA road safety expert, said it’s easy to tell when someone’s on their phone, and the behaviour is becoming more common.
“It is understandable that there is so much concern about people using their phones illegally behind the wheel – you can tell almost instantly if the person in front of you is focusing on their phone and not the road because they look like they are driving drunk,” Vlahomitros said.
“Australia has the highest concentration of smartphones in the world and we know that the number of people caught using their phones illegally is on the rise.”
As for a solution to the problem? Respondents put visible policing atop the list of ways to improve behaviour, with 56 per cent of those surveyed describing it as “the most effective way to tackle bad driver behaviour” as it happens.
Coupled with unmarked police cars, that number leapt to 79 per cent. By way of comparison, just nine per cent rated so-called Road Safety Cameras an effective deterrent for bad behaviour.
“It is also not surprising that there is such strong support for the role of Police in keeping us safe on the roads,” Vlahomitros explained.
“A greater number of clearly marked, visible highway patrols is the most effective way to change bad behaviour because drivers never know if there is one around the corner or over the hill,” she went on.
"You can’t catch a drunk driver with a speed camera”.
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