Monday, December 26, 2011

Three Demerit Points and a Defect

Driving along Anzac Parade, Kensington this afternoon I was stopped at the lights when a marked police car pulled up alongside. Waiting for the lights to change I turned to check out the driver. A middle aged police officer, with his mobile phone held against his ear.

I would have taken a photo of it except the Roads and Maritime Services (formerly Roads and Traffic Authority) website notes:
It is illegal to drive or ride a vehicle while using a hand-held mobile phone. The penalty is a significant fine and three demerit points.

This means that talking, sending or receiving text messages, playing games or taking photos are illegal when using a hand-held phone. It is also illegal to perform these activities when your vehicle is stopped but not parked, for example when you are waiting at traffic lights.
Right officer?

When he drove off, roughly 10kmh above the posted speed limit, I also watched him change lane without indicating. Oh and one of his brake lights wasn't working. But here's the thing. I'm not calling for this Officer to be pulled up, so to speak.

1) Police obviously think Mobile phone rules are silly too. There is also good research which suggests laws banning handheld mobile phone use whilst driving do not reduce accidents compared to handsfree use.

2) The obsession with speed enforcement is ridiculous. It was a three lane dual-carriageway road (Anzac Parade) and he was travelling only slightly quicker than the prevailing speed (everybody else slowed down when they saw the police car). His 70kmh in a 60 zone was harmless. I'm sure plenty of people have been booked on that section of road for 'lesser' offences.

3) Like a number of people who've probably received a defect notice and fine, he would have had no idea the brakelight was out.

Having said that, I do hope the officer concerned has never and will never book any driver for anything, ever.


Blogger kae said...

Three demerit points and a defect?

Sounds like what I get when I visit the doctor.

4:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

now if you were carrying a camera, you would have been ok.

7:26 PM  
Anonymous HRT said...

Fair go Becky - following is an extract from the report you referenced:

"... several studies have established that phoning while driving increases crash risk."

Here is another piece: "A VicRoads paper to the Victorian Bicycle Advisory Council stated: 'The crash risk of using a mobile phone is usually quoted as being four times that of a non-user. Some research shows it as being even higher. By comparison, this is a similar risk level as driving 10 km/h over the limit in an urban area, or having a BAC limit of 0.10.' (BAC is Blood Alcohol Content)"

Allowing their use while driving is on a par with allowing pilots to use them during instrument approaches, take offs and landings and surgeons to use them while performing operations.

6:06 AM  
Anonymous Dan Lewis said...


It wasn't JF who posted this, it was me. I didn't say that using mobile phones isn't potentially dangerous. I happen to think a lot of people should put the phone down and drive.

However I reject that holding it to your head is somehow more dangerous than using a speakerphone. I see a lot of people driving erratically because they are talking into a phone on their lap, rather than keeping their eyes up, on the road. Once again a 'safety' strategy which appears to have the opposite effect. Interestingly, having perused the RTA/RMS website I can see they've just reduced the points penalty incurred for driving in the right-hand (overtaking) lane unnecessarily. Driving fast is baaaad. Driving stupid is no big deal.

I also think teenagers texting while driving is a disaster in the making. Hope that clarifies.

7:45 AM  
Anonymous HRT said...

Thanks Dan, and a thousand apologies to Becky.

Now, if all car driving mobile phone users will throw them out the window and get out with hands high, no-one will get hurt.

(The last part was brought to you by a cyclist brought unstuck by a mobile user).

8:22 AM  
Blogger Steve said...

I once had cause to look at the section in Queensland which creates the offence of using a mobile phone while driving, but it seemed to me it didn't contain a way to distinguish between using a mobile phone with a hands free set or not. However, in court, I heard a Magistrate say that he had never heard of the police charging someone with using a hands free mobile. I wonder if this is simply because proving the latter is difficult? Yet surely if someone has an accident, they might volunteer the information that they were using a hands free mobile at the time.

So, I am not sure what the story is re hands free use.

Does anyone know if other States have a clear distinction between the two ways of using a mobile in the legislation?

7:28 AM  
Blogger kae said...

The only accident I know of (happened to the sister in law of a friend), was when the phone slipped off the passenger seat or out of the handbag and into the passenger side footwell. The driver tried to retrieve the phone while driving out of a roundabout.
She was in a 4WD.
She crashed into two or three other cars.
She was very embarrassed - and she wasn't even using the phone.

3:37 PM  

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