A leading road safety advocate has warned miners that using a phone while driving is the same as driving drunk. In an exclusive interview with Australasian Mine Safety Journal (AMSJ) in the lead up to this years Queensland Mining Industry Health & Safety Conference, Russell White of the Australian Road Safety Foundation said if he had to change one piece of legislation in Australia, it would be about using a mobile phone while you’re driving.
Russell told AMSJ that “It’s about mobile phone use …it’s something that is not well understood. I’d change legislation to limit using a device while you’re in motion. Mobile phone use is an addiction for some people. It could be argued that it’s worse than drink driving.”
He went on to explain the “You’re both impaired as well as driving blind when you’re on the phone and so many people are doing it. I believe that public perception about drink driving has clearly changed over the years. It’s not socially acceptable to drive drunk and it shouldn’t be socially acceptable to drive while you’re on the phone.”
Russell highlighted in his interview that “Research over the last five years has shown that there is no difference in the level of distraction associated with using a hands free or hand held. It is equally as dangerous. Legal doesn’t necessarily mean safe….the problem arises from how we process the phone signal as a driver. Research has shown that even two-way radios are less dangerous because of the less fluid nature of the conversation. Distractions from mobile phone use can be devastating and we need to limit people’s use…but this is about educating and changing the culture so people understand the risks.”
In the interview Russell also talked about his passion for improving road safety and the challenges for the mining and other industries associated with the use of a mobile phone while driving. “We know that technology exists to jam a mobile phone but the vehicle market is focusing on feature with connectivity. We should be limiting accessibility to phone conversations while driving.”
Russell will be the Master of Ceremonies at this year’s mining safety conference which starts on Sunday, 19th August at the Gold Coast. The full script of the interview is available at Australasian Mine Safety Journal.