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Nanny state? Revenue raising? Just put down your f**king phone.

by REBECCA SPARROW

Stop your whinging. That’s what I want to say.  Stop your whinging and bitching about the new tougher laws that were introduced last week in NSW (and will likely soon extend to other states) regarding the use of mobile phones whilst driving.

What are the new laws? You can read them here.  Or I can give them to you in a nutshell: TOUCH YOUR MOBILE PHONE IN THE CAR AND YOU’LL GET A $300 FINE AND LOSE 3 POINTS FROM YOUR LICENCE. THE END.

Doesn’t matter if you’re at a stop light. Doesn’t matter if you’re in a traffic jam. Doesn’t matter if your phone is on your lap and on speaker (because, gosh, that’s waaaay safer).

If you make a call, listen to a message, read or send a text while your car’s ignition is on, and you get caught, you’ll pay for it.  You either have a legitimate hands-free system set up or you don’t use your phone.

And I’m fine with that. Is it harsh? Sure.  But if you looked at a list of “The 10 Worst Combos Of All Time” — somewhere between ‘Renee Zellweger and Kenny Chesney’ and ‘blue cheese ice-cream’ would be ‘mobile phones and driving’.

But many, many other people are not fine with these new laws including one of my favourite journalists, Sarrah Le Marquand. Sarrah, speaking for many others, fears Australia is turning into a nanny-state and that this new legislation is  over-the-top, simplistic and pure revenue raising.  She writes

Sarrah Le Marquand

For jaded commuters already well accustomed to the insatiable appetite of successive state governments for revenue, it’s impossible to conclude the new laws are anything other than a shameless grab for cash.

In grappling with how best to regulate the risks posed by the constantly evolving piece of technology known as a mobile phone, the RMS has emerged with an approach that’s several years out of date. Issuing an oversimplified edict regarding their use is a short-sighted and unnecessarily punitive response.

Just as conversing with fellow passengers and singing along to the radio are not perceived as posing a fatal threat when driving, neither should the responsible use of a mobile phone.

You can read Sarah’s full story here.

Look, I understand what Sarah is saying.  I do.  The government is treating us all like imbeciles who can’t be trusted.

But, well, how do I say this delicately? Um, WE CAN’T BE TRUSTED.

Stop me if you’ve heard this before but …

Reading or sending a text message while driving makes you FIVE TIMES more likely to be involved in a car accident (Virginia Tech Transportation Unit)

– Using a mobile phone while driving is like driving with a blood alcohol reading of .08% (RACQ)

– Even using a hands-free device, using a mobile while driving reduces your reaction time by 35% (RACQ).

But we knew that already, didn’t we?  Sure, we did. We knew it yesterday. And two months ago. And maybe even last year.  And it hasn’t made any difference to our behaviour.  Which is why I’m assuming the RMS has gone all zero tolerance on your arse (if you live in NSW).

And I applaud them for that because I know, for me, in the past its been a slippery slope. If I’m allowed to make a call using the loud speaker with the  phone in my lap at traffic lights it so easily slides into making a call when you’re driving at 20 then 30 then 50 kmph.

Suddenly I’m giving myself permission to  glance down at a text message which in turn becomes  typing a quick ‘5 mins away!’ sms.

But it’s just not worth the risk.

And the fact is, whether you’re at a stop sign or in a traffic jam you’re still surrounded by lots of cars (some of which may still be hurtling around you at 60 kmph).  Isn’t that worth our full attention?

One bad judgement call can change your life.  Don’t want to get one of these new hefty $300 fines?  Me neither. So don’t get one.

Do you use your phone while driving? Would this law change your behaviour? Would anything?