Australians send more than 20 billion text messages each year. A large number of those text messages are being sent by drivers from behind the wheel. About two thirds of drivers under 25 admit to doing it.
We know that using a mobile phone or other device while driving is illegal and offenders may be hit with a fine for breaking the law. Did you know that if a driver causes an accident while texting, they may also face criminal charges and the victims can also bring civil claims against the distracted driver?
People have been seriously injured as a result of a driver being distracted by their mobile phone.
A 7 year old girl suffered multiple skull fractures, fractured eye orbital and serious soft tissue injuries when she was thrown from her car seat when a truck, driven by a driver who was texting, hit her mother’s car.
A driver was sending a text message when he ran a stop sign and drove into the path of a tractor-trailer, leaving his passenger in a coma for three weeks. She sustained a traumatic brain injury and is now permanently disabled.
A 40 year old mother of 2 was killed instantly when a 17 year old driver crashed into her car, while speeding and weaving in and out of traffic, all while texting his girlfriend.
An American invention is being explored by Australian authorities in an effort to curtail those types of car accidents. It is a small device that fits into a port under the steering wheel of most car models. It connects the car to the internet and can then block drivers from receiving distractions like text messages on their mobile phones. Messages are “held” until the car engine is turned off. The device can be customised so that a driver can determine what they do or don’t switch off. For example, phone calls and text messages can be held, but GPS and music functions can still operate.
Insurers are considering offering discounts to drivers who install the device.