DANGEROUS HABITS: Nearly 80% of drivers agree that talking on the mobile increases the risk of being in an accident.
DANGEROUS HABITS: Nearly 80% of drivers agree that talking on the mobile increases the risk of being in an accident. -goldy-

Have your say on options to regulate driver distraction

THE National Transport Commission (NTC) today released a consultation regulation impact statement (RIS) seeking feedback on technology-neutral options to regulate driver distraction.

Distraction is seen as a significant road safety risk that is not as well understood as other risk factors such as drink-driving and speeding. Studies have found that a task which takes a driver's 'eyes off the road' for as little as two seconds can be particularly hazardous.

NTC Chief Executive Officer Gillian Miles said that new technology-related distractions, outdated rules and a general lack of understanding from road users present significant challenges.

Driver distraction infographic.
Driver distraction infographic. James Graham

"Drivers engage in non-driving activities every 96 seconds while behind the wheel. Distractions take our concentration off the road which means we may not have time to react to hazards,” said Dr Miles.

"We are proposing four options for consideration. The views of a broad range of stakeholders are crucial to guide any policy reform to deal with driver distraction.”

The NTC says its four options for consideration are:

  • Status quo: While this technology-based option does not align with the Transport and Infrastructure Council's request for a technology-neutral approach, we have included it as the baseline to which all other options will be compared. The Guideline for Ministerial Councils and National Standard Setting Bodies requires that the 'status quo' and effectiveness of existing regulations should be considered as an option for meeting the objectives (Council of Australian Governments, 2007)
  • Prescriptive: This technology-neutral option proposes new prescriptive offences deterring specific high-risk behaviours
  • Performance-based: This technology-neutral option proposes to address distraction by outlining the outcome sought by legislation, which is the safe execution of the driving task
  • Hybrid: A technology-neutral option that combines elements from the previous two options and seeks to provide the benefits from both approaches while minimising their disadvantages.

The Australian Road Research Board (ARRB) reviewed the best international research available to date on driver distraction. This work supports the NTC's efforts in stimulating discussions about driver distraction research, policy and legislative reform options.

Consultation on this paper closes on August 21, 2019. The NTC will then deliver a decision RIS for transport ministers' consideration in May 2020.

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