Dec 24, 2010

Take responsibility this Christmas when driving

Take responsibility this Christmas when driving

The Hon Anthony Albanese MP

Minister for Infrastructure & Transport

Leader of the House

Member for Grayndler

December 24 2010

The Australian Government has joined forces with two of the country’s leading racing car drivers as well as the local government sector and the mobile phone industry to urge drivers to take care over the Christmas-New Year holiday period.

Federal Transport Minister Anthony Albanese had a simple message for all motorists: the safety of you and your family is in your hands so take your time and focus on arriving at your destination safely.

“All of us need to take greater personal responsibility when behind the wheel. This fact was borne out in the research I released earlier this year which found that while Australians are well-informed about the issue of road safety, the personal conduct of many leaves a lot to be desired.

“Indeed, a quarter of motorists consider it acceptable to speed if they are ‘driving safely’, almost one in six had dozed off at the wheel at least once, and two-thirds admitted to using their mobile phone while driving.”

The Australian Local Government Association (ALGA) urges drivers this Christmas to take regular breaks on long trips, slow down and not to drink and drive.

ALGA President, Cr Genia McCaffery, said: “Roads safety is an issue for everyone in the community. Remember a happy Christmas is a safe Christmas.

“Speeding, fatigue and driving while under the influence of drugs and alcohol are the biggest causes of death and serious injury on our roads, with safety risks heightened during holiday periods like Christmas.

“So that all road users can go home safely to their families, it’s important that drivers take regular breaks on long trips and share the driving if possible to combat fatigue and plan your trip and allow plenty of time to get to your destination without speeding to help keep you, your passengers and others safe on the road.

“And always remember, if you’re planning on having a drink or two, organise a designated driver or take a taxi or public transport.”

The Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association (AMTA) warned drivers about distractions, including mobile phone use while behind the wheel.

AMTA Chief Executive Officer, Chris Althaus, said drivers must take care when using legal hands-free mobiles because it was not appropriate to use them when road conditions were dangerous, in heavy traffic or to get involved in complex and emotional conversations.

But there was one situation- texting- when mobile use was never acceptable under any circumstances, warned V8 supercar champion and TeamVodafone driver, Jamie Whincup.

“Texting is not only illegal, it’s very dangerous. Recent research shows that texting is as dangerous as drink driving,” he said. “Driving, whether on the race track, on a suburban street or a highway, demands all of our attention and eyes on the road.”

Fellow TeamVodafone driver and V8 champion Craig Lowndes said: “Do not text and drive. Wait until you arrive. Nothing can be so important to risk your life and others by texting. Let’s all make safety our most important call this Christmas.”

AMTA’s safety tips for mobile use and driving can be viewed here.