By Clair Morton
Published: Thursday, September 24, 2020
Do as I say, not as I do. It’s a phrase that’s been uttered by parents for generations, but does it stack up?
With RAA research showing 41% of South Australian teenagers have seen a parent or caregiver text while driving, it might be safer – for everyone – to instead lead by example.
The unnerving statistic was captured during a survey of more than 3500 SA high school students at RAA’s 2020 Street Smart High, an annual event designed to help young people stay safe on the road.
Ben Haythorpe, RAA’s Senior Manager of Community Engagement, said that with distracted driving playing a large part in the state’s road toll, it was vital that parents led by example to help prevent new drivers from forming dangerous habits.
“From 2015–19, distracted driving contributed to 43% of fatalities and 48% of serious injuries on SA roads,” Mr Haythorpe says.
“At 50km/h, just a 2 second glance at your phone means you’ll travel around 28m blind to what’s around you.
“We understand it can be really difficult to give up your phone, but if we don’t lead by example, we’re setting a dangerous precedent for the next generation.”
Which leads to the next question: how do we put away the phone for good?
A national survey commissioned by the Australian Automobile Association (AAA) on behalf of RAA and our sister clubs around the county showed that while 93% of younger drivers and 79% of experienced drivers had tried to reduce phone use behind the wheel, their attempts rarely made a difference.
But there is hope, with research showing that giving people strategies for cutting phone use that are tailored to their individual motivations is key.
Drive In The Moment, an online tool developed by AAA in partnership with RAA, aims to to help South Australians do just that.
“It’s not just about taking a call anymore – there are more ways to use our mobile phones and be distracted from driving than ever before, whether it’s checking notifications, using a GPS app, or changing a song,” says RAA Senior Manager of Safety and Infrastructure Charles Mountain.
“With the Drive In The Moment tool, you can piece together when you’re most at risk, and tailor a plan to help you reduce the likelihood of using your phone in the car.”