Get your hand off it, Gay tells motorists

New road safety campaign launched in New South Wales to discourage people from using mobile phones while driving

June 12, 2013

A new road safety campaign has been launched in New South Wales to discourage people from using their mobile phone while driving.

Dubbed the ‘Get Your Hand Off It’ campaign, the NSW Government will use traditional advertising and a YouTube video to highlight the excuses motorists make so they can hold their mobile phone while driving.

Roads Minister Duncan Gay says road users who make calls or send texts while driving are threatening their own safety and the wellbeing of others.

"It is reckless and dangerous behaviour that can and does have disastrous and tragic results," Gay says.

"The video addresses in an unconventional way the danger of using a handheld phone behind the wheel and references some of the common excuses used to justify such dangerous and illegal behaviour."

Figures from the State Debt Recovery Office indicate that in 2012 there were 42,893 infringements issued to motorists for using a mobile phone while driving.

While two thirds of the driving population agree that using their mobile phone while driving is dangerous, statistics show that many do it regardless.

Gay says the research shows 49 percent of motorists make calls using a handheld phone while driving, while a further 55 percent say they take calls while driving.

"More than a third of those surveyed in the 20-29 age group indicated that they texted while driving. That’s a frightening statistic, because it’s such a dangerous activity," Gay says.

While the campaign is aimed at all genders and age groups, Gay says the YouTube video is targeted primarily at those aged between 17 and 33.

The ‘Get Your Hand Off It’ campaign will feature outdoor advertisements, including on buses and taxis, to reach at the most effective time those motorists who take these risks.

Telstra, Optus, Virgin Mobile and Vodafone are supporting the campaign by producing communications with their customers to remind them they should never use a handheld mobile phone while driving.

New road rules introduced in November last year state a phone can only be used if it is mounted in a cradle or is operated by Bluetooth or voice activation.

Gay says the campaign makes it clear it is against the law to pick up and use a phone while driving. A driver may only hold a phone to pass it to a passenger.

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