New laws: When $1000 fines for drivers will kick in
MOTORISTS busted on their mobile phones while driving will be slapped with a $1000 fine under a major crackdown that will see Queensland have the toughest laws in the country.
The Courier-Mail can reveal distracted drivers who are sprung using their phone twice within a year could also lose their licence under the hard line push from the Palaszczuk Government to bolster road safety and drive down deaths on Queensland roads.
Transport Minister Mark Bailey will unveil the new laws on Thursday, which will more than double the current penalty of $400.
Mr Bailey conceded the $1000 fine was tough, but insisted it was needed to get the road safety message through.
"It's a deadly habit that needs to stop," he said.
"Drivers using their phones illegally behind the wheel will be made to pay a high price. But that penalty falls well short of the costs and trauma our community carries for those killed or injured in crashes caused by inattentive drivers."
The new penalty will come into effect from February 1, 2020, after the Government first flagged a potential shake up in June.
The fine will be among the world's highest for distracted driving and will be tougher than every other state in Australia.
The penalty for using a phone while driving is $337 in New South Wales, $484 in Victoria and up to $577 in the ACT.
The move will also likely increase Government revenue from fines, with over 57,000 infringements dished out to drivers between 2015 and 2017.
Mr Bailey said a driver's response time while texting was comparable to a motorist with a blood alcohol reading of between .07 and .10.
"Like drink driving, drivers need to know that reaching for the phone to send a quick text or check social media when their eyes should be on the road is unacceptable," he said.
"We're getting close to that time of year where we start to have Christmas parties and take holidays where driving long distances might be involved.
"Put the phone in the glovebox or set it to Do Not Disturb so you're not distracted by it."
There were 33 people killed on Queensland roads last year in crashes involving distracted or inattentive drivers and riders.