RAC has welcomed the increase to mobile phone penalties set to start tomorrow, with a new survey revealing an alarming number of motorists are still using their phones behind the wheel.

The survey of over 400 RAC members found 97 per cent of WA motorists have witnessed other drivers distracted by their phones, while more than one in three admit to engaging in the behaviour themselves.  

Eighty per cent of those surveyed said they feel uncomfortable being in a car while the driver is using their phone, with 87 per cent supporting the increase to penalties. 

RAC General Manager Corporate Affairs Will Golsby said the new penalties were a step towards tackling distraction on our roads.

“As a leading factor in deaths and serious injuries on WA roads, distracted driving is one of the most complex road safety challenges we face,” Mr Golsby said.

“Whether it’s making a call, using an app or changing a song — anything that takes your attention off the road ahead is putting yourself and others at risk.”

“It takes an average of five seconds to read a text message but just a split second for a life to be changed forever.

“Please put your phone away while driving or turn it off — nothing is so urgent it’s worth killing or seriously injuring yourself or someone else.”

Earlier this month, RAC launched the Drive in the Moment toolkit, which educates drivers about the dangers of distraction and creates a personalised strategy to help them break the habit.

“We want all motorists to remember that using a phone while driving can have fatal consequences, and to commit to driving in the moment at all times."

From tomorrow, the new mobile phone penalties mean you can be fined up to $1,000 and four demerit points for using your phone behind the wheel. For more information, please visit the Road Safety Commission’s website.

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Media contact: Mikayla Wearne, 0401 703 719 or media@rac.com.au