Western Australia trialling "texting bays" to curb dangerous driving


WhistleOut
18 April 2017

Western Australian drivers have been the first in Australia to test out "texting bays" across the Forrest and South Western highways. Marked by electronic signage, the bays are designed to provide a space where drivers can pull over for a couple of minutes in order to safety check their phone while on the road. At present, five texting bays are being run across the state's South West and Peels regions.

The trial is being spearheaded by some of Western Australia's Roadwise committees and is funded by the West Australian Road Safety Commission. It will run until April 28 as to cover the remainder of Western Australia's school holiday period.

Transport NSW says that crash data from 2010 to 2014 showed that were at least 236 crashes were hand-held mobile phone usage was a contributing factor. It also notes that these numbers could be under-reported, due to difficulty of finding evidence of phone usage at a crash scene.

Australia isn't the first nation to test out dedicated texting bays on major roads. New York launched a similar program back in 2013 with the rollout of 91 "text zones" along highways, though that was more so a rebrand of existing rest areas.

Using your smartphone while driving is illegal in Australia, with penalties varying on a state-by-state basis. 

  • In New South Wales, you're looking at 4 demerit points and a $319 fine. 
  • In Victoria, you're looking at 4 demerit points and a $466 fine.
  • In Western Australia, you're looking at 3 demerit points and a $400 fine. 
  • In Queensland, you're looking at 3 demerit points and a $365 fine. 
  • In South Australia, you're looking at 3 demerit points and a $380 fine. 
  • In the Northern Territory, you're looking at 3 demerit points and a $250 fine. 
  • In Tasmania, you're looking at 3 demerit points and a $300 fine. 
  • And in the Australian Capital Territory, you're looking at 3 demerit points and a $386 fine. 

Woman texting and driving image from ShutterStock.


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